Objective. To estimate the prevalence of recent supplement use in a national sample of preschool children and to examine the relationship of maternal and child characteristics, past maternal supplement use practices, familial, health services, and child health factors associated with supplement use.

Methods. We used data on 8285 preschool children whose mothers were interviewed for the 1991 Longitudinal Follow-up to the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey. Data collection was conducted either by telephone or personal interview. The sample is representative of the estimated 3.8 million US born children in 1988 and alive in 1991. The outcome measures are whether the child was given any vitamin and mineral supplements at least 3 days a week in the 30 days before the interview and the type of supplement received. Statistical techniques included bivariate and weighted multiple logistic regression analysis.

Results. More than half of all US 3-year-olds (54.4%) were given some vitamin and mineral supplement. The most common supplements consumed were multivitamin–mineral with iron (59% of supplement users) and multivitamin–mineral without iron (26.4%). Children who received any supplements tended to have mothers who are non-Hispanic White, older, more educated, married, insured, receiving care from a private health care provider, have greater household income, and took supplements during pregnancy. Child health characteristics associated with supplement use included first birth order and having eating problems or poor appetites.

Conclusions. More than half of US preschool children used vitamin and mineral supplements. The sociodemographic and health predictors identified for supplement use suggest that groups at risk for nonuse are likely the same groups whose circumstances may predispose a need for supplementation.

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