Are supplements becoming more dangerous? Or are parents taking less good care of their children?
The number of reports in the US of people developing problems after taking supplements has increased by half since the start of this century. But that's probably not because supplements have become more dangerous write researchers at Ohio State University in an article published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology. The most important reason is probably that Americans are caring less well for their children.
If Americans have consumed something that they think might not be okay â€“ from a strange-tasting hamburger to plutonium - they can call a US Poison Control Centre. The researchers analysed all reports related to supplements received in the period 2000-2012.
The researchers found a total of 274,998 reports. This spectacularly high number contrasts sharply with the very low number of reports of fatalities, of which fortunately there were only 34. The most fatal supplements were the plant extracts and most of the fatalities were linked to the now forbidden Ephedra-extracts.
In 97.3 percent of the cases it was children under the age of 6 who had consumed the supplement in question.
When the researchers looked at the reports of adult users there had been no increase.
"Sometimes, parents don't think of keeping dietary supplements away from their kids, because they're not medicines prescribed by the doctor," said co-author Henry Spiller, of Ohio State University, in an interview with CNN. [cnn.com July 24, 2017] "People think of them as natural. But they need to be treated as if they were a medicine. Don't leave them out on the counter. Keep them out of reach."
This study perhaps says more about American society, where parents have less and less time for their children, than about the risks of supplements.
J Med Toxicol. 2017 Jul 24. doi: 10.1007/s13181-017-0623-7.
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