NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new health warning has been issued for parents everywhere.

Those herbs, vitamins, and other supplements that might be healthy for you could be dangerous to your child.

Poison control centers are reporting alarming increases in accidental ingestion of those supplements.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, centers across the country received over 275,000 such calls between 2000 and 2012.

“As that market and that industry has continued to grow, so have calls to the poison center regarding exposures,” poison control expert Dr. Michael Lynch said.

Thousands of products claiming weight loss, energy boosting, sleep enhancing, or other health related effects.

“It includes a whole lot of different things. Things you can buy over the counter through nutrition stores that a lot of people consider safe aren’t well regulated, and are sold as dietary supplements,” Dr. Lynch said.

A study in the Journal of Medical Toxicology looked at Poison Control Center calls from 2005 to 2017. Calls about dietary supplements, herbals, and homeopathic remedies jumped 50 percent.

Seven out of ten calls were about kids younger than six. Serious medical complications occurred nearly five percent of the time.

The most common product is a popular hormone supplement used as a sleep aid — melatonin.

“In a child under age six there can be effects, especially sleepiness, and difficulty to arouse, which may even end up having to go to the hospital to be evaluated,” Dr. Lynch said.

The bottom line is that until more safety features are built into the packaging, these supplements should be treated like any other medication, pharmaceutical, or household chemical — locked up and stored away from curious kids.

The serious danger may be relatively low, but it is real.

As a precaution, all parents should have the number of their local poison control center on their phone or better yet, on speed dial.


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