197546 Feeding of botanical supplements and teas to infants in the United States

Monday, November 9, 2009: 5:10 PM

Sara B. Fein, PhD , Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD
Elizabeth B. Fein, MS , Department of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Judith Labiner-Wolfe, PhD , Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, College Park, MD
Objectives: To describe infant consumption of botanical supplements and teas in the United States.

Methods: The analysis used the 2,000 mothers in the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a U.S. national study of infant feeding and care which questioned the mothers nearly monthly from late pregnancy through their infant's first birthday. Data were collected between 2005 and 2007. Questions about botanical supplements were asked every month. Chi square was used to test significance of associations.

Results: Overall, 10 percent of infants were fed a botanical supplement or tea in their first year. Prevalence of feeding supplements varied only slightly by age, from 1.7 percent among 9 month-olds to 3.4 percent among 2 month-olds. Mothers listed thirty-five different supplements they gave to infants; the most commonly given were gripe water, chamomile, teething tablets, tea unspecified, and tummy soothers. Fussiness was the main reason for giving supplements through age 9 months followed by digestive problems and to help the baby relax. Consistent with previous research, mothers who were more likely to give supplements were older, higher educated, and were supplement users themselves. They also breastfed longer than mothers who did not give their infants supplements. The most commonly reported sources of information about supplements were friends and relatives, medical providers, and the media.

Conclusion: Supplement use among infants may be higher than among older children and a wide variety of supplements are given to infants. Health care providers need to recognize the possibility that infants under their care are receiving such supplements.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe prevalence in a US sample of giving botanical supplements and teas to infants. 2) List specific supplements mothers reported they gave their infants. 3) Describe the reasons mothers gave supplements to their infants by infant age. 4) Describe which mothers’ characteristics are associated with giving supplements to infants.

Keywords: Infant Health, Herbal Medicine

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Sara B. Fein is a sociologist with extensive experience researching infant feeding practices. She has served as director for two infant feeding practices studies for the US Food and Drug Administration. In October 2008, the journal Pediatrics dedicated a Supplement to her most recent analyses on infant feeding. In addition, Dr. Fein has served as a presenter at many professional conferences, including APHA annual meetings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.