OBJECTIVES - Little is known regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use during pregnancy and the preconception period. Since half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, understanding the patterns of CAM use among women of childbearing age has implications for fetal and maternal health.
METHODS - Descriptive statistics were generated from the 2012 National Health Interview Study (NHIS) to estimate weighted prevalence and patterns of CAM use by women of childbearing age. Comparisons were made between pregnant and nonpregnant respondents.
RESULTS - In this sample of 10,002 women, 7 percent (n = 727) were recently pregnant. Over one-third of all the women used CAM during the previous year (34/38%, pregnant/nonpregnant, respectively) and only half disclosed CAM use to conventional providers (50/49%). In the adjusted model, taking multivitamins (OR 2.52 [CI 2.22-2.86]) and moderate to heavy alcohol use (OR 1.92 [CI 1.53-2.41]) were more likely associated with CAM use. The two most commonly used modalities were herbs (14/17%) and yoga (13/16%). The top reasons for CAM use were to improve general wellness or to prevent disease (33/35%) and to treat back pain (16/18%). When examining all pregnancy-related symptoms treated with CAM, no difference was found in the rates of CAM use between pregnant and nonpregnant users.
CONCLUSIONS - CAM use by women of childbearing age in the United States is common, with over a third of the population using one or more therapies. However, only half disclosed their use to conventional providers despite limited evidence on safety and effectiveness. This study highlights the important need for further research in this area.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.