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Study Questions Giving Babies Botanical Supplements, Teas
Date:5/2/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The use of botanical supplements and teas for infants is a surprisingly common practice, new research finds, but experts warn that such products might not be safe for babies.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, found that nearly 10 percent of babies are given botanical supplements or teas during their first year of life. The researchers found that even babies as young as 1 month old were given these products.

"Our study is the first to examine the prevalence of dietary botanical supplement and tea use among a sample of U.S. infants," wrote the study's authors. "The wide variety of dietary botanical supplements and teas given to infants increases the likelihood that some are unsafe."

Results of the study are published online May 2 in Pediatrics. The report is scheduled to appear in the June print version of the journal.

Dietary botanical supplements and herbal teas don't receive the same scrutiny that pharmaceutical products do, according to background information in the study. Use of such products can cause adverse reactions with other medications, and these products may be inherently unsafe themselves.

Some supplements may contain heavy metals or other contaminants, and infants are more susceptible to such toxins, according to the study. In addition, some dietary supplements have caused seizures and even death in previously healthy infants. One dietary supplement was recalled in 2007 because of microbiological contamination.

During the first four to six months of life, child health experts recommend that babies only be fed human breast milk or infant formula, according to the study.

Reviewing information from the Infant Feeding Practices Study that was conducted from 2005 to 2007, the researchers found data from 2,653 mothers.

Almost 6 percent said they had given their infant
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