Case Study: Complementary medicine causing severe side effects in children – An overlooked cause of weight loss?

Background

Homeopathic medicine is traditionally considered to be one of the safest systems of medicine, as the drugs are made from the dilution of the active ingredients [1]. However, there is certain evidence available that supports the fact that homeopathic medicines can cause severe adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in children [2,3]. It is very important to know patients’ medication history in order to uncover the presence of such incidences. The present case of a 5-year-old child shows the presence of fever, loose motion, and weight loss due to the consumption of homeopathic medicine. It is very important to report such cases so that physicians can be made aware of the ADRs pertaining to the use of alternative systems of medicine.

Case Presentation

A 5-year-old girl presented at our outpatient clinic with a fever, loose motion, and weight loss. The initial workup showed negative results for common causes. She received multiple antibiotics without being given any specific diagnosis. However, none of the treatments were effective. A continuous measurement of the patient’s weight and fever was carried out. It was found that her body weight declined from 18 kg to 12 kg (30 % of total weight) with a persistent fever of up to 102 degrees (F) during the observation period of approximately one month. She was admitted, and various diagnostic tests and cultures were performed to rule out the possibilities of HIV, typhoid, TB, and other infectious and non-infectious causes. All the tests performed were found negative. From the patient medication history, it was found that, apart from the allopathic medicines, the patient was receiving homeopathic medicines for small hypopigmented patches on her right eyelid. Upon retrospective review, the mother clearly appreciated that the symptoms of fever, loose motion, and weight loss started soon after the start of homeopathic treatment.
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