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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Use of herbal medicinal products among children and adolescents in Germany

Yong Du1*, Ingrid-Katharina Wolf1, Wanli Zhuang1, Stefanie Bodemann2, Werner Knöss2 and Hildtraud Knopf1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring, Robert Koch Institute, General-Pape-Str. 62-66, Berlin 12101, Germany

2 Complementary and Alternative Medicines - Traditional Medicinal Products, Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, Kurt-Georg-Kiesinger-Allee 3, Bonn 53175, Germany

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:218  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-218

Published: 2 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Germany is a country with a high use of herbal medicinal products. Population-based data on the use of herbal medicinal products among children are lacking. The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence, patterns and determinants of herbal medicine use among children and adolescents in Germany.

Methods

As data base served the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), a representative population based survey conducted 2003–2006 by the Robert Koch Institute. 17,450 boys and girls aged 0–17 years provided information on drug use in the preceding seven days. Herbal medicinal products were defined according to the European and German drug laws. SPSS Complex Sample method was used to estimate prevalence rates and factors associated with herbal medicine use.

Results

The prevalence rate of herbal medicinal product use amounts to 5.8% (95% confidence interval 5.3-6.3%). Use of herbal medicine declines along with increasing age and shows no difference between boys and girls in younger age groups. Teenage girls are more likely to use herbal medicines than teenage boys. Two thirds of herbal medicines are used for the treatment of coughs and colds; nearly half of herbal medicines are prescribed by medical doctors. Determinants of herbal medicinal product use are younger age, residing in South Germany, having a poor health status, having no immigration background and coming from a higher social class family. Children’s and parents-related health behavior is not found to be associated with herbal medicine use after adjusting for social class.

Conclusions

Use of herbal medicinal products among children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 17 years in Germany is widely spread and shows relatively higher rates compared to international data. This study provides a reference on the use of herbal medicinal products for policy-makers, health professionals and parents. Further studies are needed to investigate the effectiveness and safety of specific herbal medicinal products, potential effects of long term use as well as possible interactions of herbal medicinal products with concomitantly used conventional medicines.

Keywords:
Herbal medicinal products; Children; KiGGS; Germany