U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, both at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The study, published online in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, found the rate of calls regarding dietary supplement exposures increased (46.1%) during 2000 to 2002, decreased (8.8%) during 2002 to 2005 and increased again (49.3%) from 2005 to 2012. The decrease from 2002 to 2005 most likely resulted from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban of the botanical stimulant ma huang previously found in some dietary supplements.
Seventy percent of dietary supplement exposure calls occurred among children younger than six years old and the majority of these were unintentional. Most exposures (97.3%) occurred at home, and in more than 97 percent of the cases, the child swallowed the substance. Serious medical outcomes accounted for 4.5 percent of exposures and the most serious outcomes (95.0%) occurred among children six years and older.
“Many consumers believe dietary supplements are held to the same safety and efficacy standards as over-the-counter medications,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Center of Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s. “However, dietary supplements are not considered drugs, thus they are not required to undergo clinical trials or obtain approval from the FDA prior to sale, unless the product is labeled as intended for therapeutic use.”