Google logged over a half-million searches for “elderberry for colds” in the past year, and the market for elderberry products is growing. Dietary supplements for kids can be a potential danger according to experts. According to Innova Market Insights, a marketing research group of the food-and-beverage industry, just under 5 percent of dietary supplement launches target children. But supplement use among children is much higher.
Fish oil, melatonin and probiotics are the most commonly used dietary supplements outside vitamins. Studies of herbal and homeopathic remedies can have design flaws, and products can lack randomized clinical trials.
The FDA has recalled 12 dietary supplements in 2019 alone; most of the recalls related to mislabeling or undeclared ingredients. Dietary supplements for kids that promised energy, weight loss and muscle building were associated with nearly three times the risk of an adverse event than those that did not.
In a study published in the journal Hepatology Communications this year, researchers analyzed the ingredients of 272 herbal and dietary supplements associated with liver injury. Fifty-one percent of them had ingredients that weren’t listed on the label.
The FDA and the National Institutes of Health urged parents to communicate with their child’s pediatrician before giving their kids an herbal remedy or other supplement. NIH also offers a series of tip sheets online, including one with questions parents might want to ask health-care providers. A pediatrician might be able to address their kids’ health concerns in ways that don’t involve supplements.