Regimens: Looking Twice at Supplements for Infants

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 in Health & Wellness, Health Optimization

By Roni Caryn Rabin

Nearly one in 10 babies are given supplements or plant-based teas to soothe colic or help with teething during the first year of life, even though the products are unproven and may contain contaminants or spur allergies, a new study says.

The report, published in the journal Pediatrics, is believed to be the first to look at supplements given specifically to infants.

The researchers drew data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a survey of women in late pregnancy and through their babies’ first year of life. Conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2005 to 2007, the study included a nationwide sample of 2,653 healthy mothers and newborns.

The most common products were chamomile and other teas, teething tablets and “gripe water

The most frequently given reasons for using supplements were to help with fussiness, digestion, colic, relaxation and teething.

Sara B. Fein, who researches consumer habits at the F.D.A. and is one of the paper’s authors, said mothers may think of dietary botanical supplements as natural and therefore of less concern, even though they may contain biologically active ingredients.

“We’re encouraging mothers to be proactive about contacting a physician if they think they should give their child a dietary supplement,” Dr. Fein said.