Alternative medicine: OK for you, not for your kids

April 30, 2013, 6:21 PM GMT+0

A large majority of Americans think it should be illegal for parents to prevent their children from receiving conventional medical care, even though most would themselves also use alternative medicines.

A recent case in Pennsylvania saw a child die after his parents refused to take him to hospital, preferring instead to pray for the child. This is the second time a child of the couple died after receiving no medical treatment and authorities are likely to prosecute them again for involuntary manslaughter.

The latest YouGov polling shows that a large majority of Americans (60%) think that it should be illegal for parents to prevent their child receiving conventional medical treatment.

23% think parents should be able to fully determine treatment for their children, even if this means exclusivey using an alternative remedy.

The same survey shows, however, that Americans are widely accepting of alternative treatments. Only 33% said that they would not use one of the main forms of alternative medicine.

Among alternative methods, traditional herbal remedies were the most popular (44%) but acupuncture (33%) and faith healing (32%) would also be used by a wide range of people.

Results varied greatly by age, with 47% of those aged over 65 saying they would not use any alternative remedies, compared to 28% of those aged 30 to 44.

While alternative treatments were widely accepted, less than 1 in 5 would consider using them exclusively.

19% said they would 'definitely' or 'probably' reject conventional medical treatment and only use alternative medical treatment.

As the law stands now, adults have almost complete control over their own medical treatment but few states have clear-cut laws determining how broadly parental rights apply when it comes to preventing their children receiving medical care.

Complete results are available here.

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