Original Article

Religion and Medical Neglect

Authors: Sara H. Sinal, MD, Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, MD, Rebecca Socolar, MD, MPH


This is a literature review of religion-associated medical neglect of children. It attempts to document the most common denominations involved in religion-associated medical neglect. There is a discussion of the history of religious exemptions to medical care and health risks to children as a result of religious exemption. Suggestions are made for the clinician regarding recognition and management of religion-associated medical neglect in children.

Key Points

* Religion-related medical neglect does exist.

* There are many documented fatalities in children related to religion-related medical neglect.

* The majority of the literature on religion-related medical neglect is associated with Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and smaller cult-like groups that are predominantly offshoots of mainstream Christian religions.

* No empirical literature on medical neglect in other world religions could be found.

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