Study finds faith healing causes needless deaths

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Four out of every five sick U.S. children who died after their parents put their trust in faith healing could probably have survived if medical treatment had been sought, according to a study published Monday.

The report, which examined 172 U.S. child deaths in faith healing families from 1975 to 1995, concluded that 140 of the deaths, or 81 percent, were due to conditions that had a survival rate exceeding 90 percent with treatment. In addition 18 more of those who died would have had better than a 50 percent chance of living with treatment, and all but three of the children would have benefited in some way from medical help, the report said.

The study was done by the University of California at San Diego and a Sioux City, Iowa, group called Children's Healthcare Is A Legal Duty.

In one case cited in the report a two-year-old child choked on a bite of banana and showed signs of life for nearly an hour while her parents reacted by calling members of their religious circle to pray. In another case the report described a 12-year-old girl who was kept out of school for seven months while a tumor on her leg grew to a circumference of 41 inches before her death.

The study was published in this month's issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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