Faith healing, the belief that diseases and injuries can be healed through the intervention of a higher power, is as old as human civilization, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

A number of religious organizations — including Christian Scientists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and the Catholic Church — recognize some degree of faith healing or divine intervention in health matters.

However, only the most extreme, fundamentalist sects of these churches advise their congregations to avoid all professional medical attention.

There have been no scientific studies that affirm the efficacy of faith healing. In fact, medical research has found that faith healing has a dismal track record.

A 1998 study from the journal Pediatrics found that of 172 children who died after their parents refused medical care, 140 of the deaths were from conditions for which survival rates with medical care would have exceeded 90 percent.