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Moms start babies early with herbal remedies, study finds

When babies get fussy, have gas or colic, or resist sleep, moms want help they can trust, and fast. Many such moms—nearly 1 in 10, according to a new study published in Pediatriacs—are turning to herbal supplements and teas as a safe way to relieve common baby woes.

When babies get fussy, have gas or colic, or resist sleep, moms want help they can trust, and fast. Many such moms—nearly 1 in 10, according to a new study published in Pediatrics—are turning to herbal supplements and teas as a safe way to relieve common baby woes. With news like the recent FDA warning on teething gels containing benzocaine, my money's on this trend going nowhere but up.

Moms who use herbal remedies themselves were four times as likely to give them to their babies (under age 1), according to the study, which was based on a nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA, and is the first to estimate the use of tea and supplement use in infants.

Herbal remedies aren't without risks, especially in very young infants, who may not yet have developed liver enzymes to fully metabolize compounds in herbal teas, American Botanical Council founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal told Bloomberg Business News.  He recommends consulting with a health professional about proper infant care.

Gripe water (which may contain ginger and fennel) was the most commonly given supplement, followed by (homeopathic) teething tablets, chamomile, and other teas.

Hispanic moms were more likely than white or African-American moms to give herbal remedies to babies, likely due to a cultural familiarity with traditional remedies. Moms who gave their babies herbs were also more likely to have one child, had more education, higher incomes, or were married than those who didn't use herbal remedies. Most moms learned about the herbal supplements and teas from relatives or other moms who'd had positive experiences with them; others learned from media, healthcare practitioners, or the Internet.

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