OBJECTIVES:

To describe the use of dietary botanical supplements and teas among infants, the characteristics of mothers who give them the specific botanical supplements and teas used, reasons for use, and sources of information.

METHODS:

We used data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II, a longitudinal survey of women studied from late pregnancy through their infant's first year of life conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2005 and 2007. The sample was drawn from a nationally distributed consumer opinion panel and was limited to healthy mothers with healthy term or near-term singleton infants. The final analytical sample included 2653 mothers. Statistical techniques include frequencies, χ2 tests, and ordered logit models.

RESULTS:

Nine percent of infants were given dietary botanical supplements or teas in their first year of life, including infants as young as 1 month. Maternal herbal use (P < .0001), longer breastfeeding (P < .0001), and being Hispanic (P = .016) were significantly associated with giving infants dietary botanical supplements or teas in the multivariate model. Many supplements and teas used were marketed and sold specifically for infants. Commonly mentioned information sources included friends or family, health professionals, and the media.

CONCLUSIONS:

A substantial proportion of infants in this sample was given a wide variety of supplements and teas. Because some supplements given to infants may pose health risks, health care providers need to recognize that infants under their care may be receiving supplements or teas.

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