Article at a Glance
• Herbal supplements and teas are not regulated the same way drugs are and can sometimes contain ingredients that may be harmful to your baby.
• Hyland’s Teething Tablets were recently recalled for using inconsistent amounts of belladonna—a substance that can be very harmful in large doses.
• There are some herbal supplements that can be harmful or even deadly when used with certain prescription medications.
• Consult your pediatrician before giving your baby anything other than breast milk or formula.
A recent study published in Pediatrics found that one out of 11 moms had given supplements or tea to their infants during their first year of life to help with things like digestive problems, colic, fussiness, or sleep issues. The most common supplements were gripe water (a mixture that includes ginger and fennel for colic and gas), chamomile, and herbal teething tablets.
While many people think of herbal supplements and teas as being safer and more natural than drugs, it is good for parents to know that they aren’t regulated by the FDA the same way drugs are. This means that they don’t have to meet the same safety standards and that the FDA hasn’t evaluated them for their effectiveness. They may also contain ingredients or contaminants that could be harmful to your baby.
For example, just this October the FDA recalled Hyland’s Teething Tablets because they used belladonna—a substance that can be very harmful in large doses. The FDA found that the company used inconsistent amounts of the substance in their tablets and that some children were showing signs of belladonna toxicity, including seizures, difficulty breathing, and muscle weakness. The FDA also found that the company had substandard control over their manufacturing operation.
Many of these companies promise to be 100% natural, but as a consumer it is hard to know what those claims actually mean.
Even strong supporters of herbal supplements and teas encourage parents to consult with their pediatrician before giving their babies anything other than breast milk or formula. It is especially important for your pediatrician to know about any supplements or teas that your baby might be using. Sometimes the active ingredients can produce strong results and have unexpected risks. There are some herbal supplements that can be harmful or even deadly when used together with certain prescription medications.
For More Information:
One in 10 Infants Get Herbal Supplements That May Pose Risks, Study Finds (Bloomberg.com)
FDA Issues Consumer Safety Alert: Hyland’s Teething Tablets may pose a risk to children