ABC’s Blumenthal Talks with Bloomberg News about Infants and Herbal Teas

May 10, 2011

Bloomberg News interviewed the American Botanical Council's Mark Blumenthal following the publication of an FDA study on infants and consumption of herbal teas.

American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX) executive director Mark Blumenthal was interviewed by Bloomberg News last week following the publication of an FDA study on infants and consumption of herbal teas.

The journal Pediatrics published a study conducted by researchers at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which found that 9% of 2653 mothers surveyed had given herbal teas to their infants during their first year of life. Herbal teas, including chamomile, mint, Echinacea, and other ingredients, were given to infants for health conditions like poor digestion and fussiness.

The FDA study pointed to concerns that such teas may contain contaminants or cause adverse drug reactions.

“Parents of infants and young children should understand that dietary supplements have not been evaluated by FDA to treat, cure or prevent any disease and that using them as such may not be appropriate,” said Sara Fein, a study author, in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. “Healthcare providers should recognize that infants under their care may have been given one or more of a wide variety of different dietary botanical supplements and teas.”

ABC’s Blumenthal told the Bloomberg News writer that tea supplementation in infants can be relatively safe if handled appropriately and when parents educate themselves before using products.

“Many of the herbs that [the study authors] surveyed reflect the use of these herbs by hundreds of years by mothers for colic and upset stomach,” said Blumenthal in an interview with Bloomberg News. “The majority of these products and ingredients seem to be relatively safe and mild especially when given appropriately.”

In an ABC press release, Blumenthal notes that results of the survey indicated potentially unsafe use of the teas by mothers who administered them to infants three months old or younger.

“Blumenthal said parents should consult with midwives, pediatricians, other healthcare practitioners and family members to educate themselves before administering anything other than breast milk or formula to their infants,” wrote Bloomberg News.