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ABC’s Blumenthal Interviewed by Bloomberg Business News on New Study on Use of Herbal Teas for Infants

Austin, TX. May 2, 2011. On Friday, April 29, ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal was interviewed by Nicole Ostrow of Bloomberg Business News for an article that was released by Bloomberg at noon EDT today about a new paper published in the journal Pediatrics. 1

The journal article is a survey of new mothers who have used weak herbal teas and herbal formulations for a variety of problems experienced by infants, in descending order: fussiness, digestion, colic, relaxation, teething, cold and respiratory problems, gas, and others.

In the Bloomberg interview, Blumenthal discussed the following points:

  1. Weak teas made from various carminative herbs have been used for centuries by women to help reduce or eliminate some of the symptoms of upset stomach and other symptoms known as infant colic. Such herbs, as noted in the survey, include chamomile, mint, anise, fennel, and catnip, among others.
  2. The fact that the survey showed that the biggest source of information (30%) for the use of such teas and preparations came from other mothers and other friends and family of the new mothers suggests the relatively strong positive experience among mothers with respect to the safety and benefits of such herbal teas and preparations for their infants. (27.5% of respondents stated that they received such information from media, 27% from healthcare practitioners, and 20.5% from the Internet.)
  3. Blumenthal also noted that administration of herbs to infants can be potentially problematic for infants (the survey showed use as early as 1 to 3 months after birth) as young infants usually do not have the development of liver enzymes which act as defenses to the body by metabolizing compounds in the herbal teas. He suggested that new mothers should consult with an experienced health professional regarding proper care of infants.
  4. However, he emphasized that from a pharmaco-epidemiological perspective, there does not seem to be a large problem with mothers’ administering these mild remedies to infants. Blumenthal noted that he had checked with a leading adverse event reporting system, and its director commented that there was little, if any, reporting of adverse events in this area.
  5. Blumenthal also noted that the term “dietary botanical supplements” and the corresponding acronym used in the article (“DBS”) are not commonly used in normal parlance, where the term “botanical dietary supplements” is generally preferred to distinguish herbal products from other non-herbal dietary supplements.

The Bloomberg article2 can be accessed here.

References

1. Zhang YT, Fein EB, Fein SB. Feeding of dietary botanical supplements and teas to infants in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011;127.

2. Ostrow N. One in 10 infants get herbal supplements that may pose risks. Bloomberg News. May 1, 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-02/one-in-10-infants-get-herbal-supplements-that-may-pose-risks.html. Accessed May 2, 2011