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Health & Baby

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Moms Are Giving Babies Herbal Supplements, Teas

Survey Shows 9% of Mothers Give Herbal Supplements, Teas to Their Infants

Tracking Herbal Supplement Use in Infants

For the study, researchers surveyed around 3,000 pregnant women before their babies were born and then at regular intervals during the baby’s first year.

All the women were at least 18 years old. The study over-represented women who were older, white, middle-class, and well educated.

The mothers were asked if their babies were given any herbal or botanical preparation or tea within the last two weeks. Moms were instructed not to count skin creams or any kind of supplement they were taking that might have been passed through breast milk.

Moms were also asked about their own herbal supplement use, as well as socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.

Overall, one out of 11 moms reported giving supplements and teas to their infants. Compared to women who didn’t use herbs, mothers were more likely to turn to botanicals if they only had one child, were older, had more education, higher incomes, or were married.

The four most common reasons mothers reported giving herbal supplements or teas to their babies were fussiness, digestive problems, colic, and to help with sleep.

The most frequently used preparations were gripe water (which may contain ginger and fennel), teething tablets, chamomile, and unspecified teas.

Less commonly, but significantly, Fein says, were the wide variety of supplements reported in the “other” category: chrysanthemum tea, clove oil, astragalus, comfrey, elderberry tea, flaxseed oil, garlic oil, goldenseal extract, grape extract, horehound tea, lemon tea, orange oil, orange tea, red raspberry tea, rosemary leaf tea, sambucol, slippery elm, and white oak bark.

“There’s just this huge variety of things that were being given to infants,” Fein says. “This is one reason that we recommend that pediatricians be aware that possibly a larger percentage of their patients than they might think might be receiving these substances.”

“They might interact with medicines or have an effect on the body,” she says.

The study is published in Pediatrics.

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