Report notes 50 percent increase in calls to US poison control centers over supplement use

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11 Aug 2017 --- A study into dietary supplement exposures in the US has found that there was an overall 50 percent increase in the rate of calls to poison control centers about exposure to dietary supplements from 2000 through 2012. Most of the exposures were found to occur in children younger than 6 years old, raising concerns about the safety of keeping certain dietary supplements around children.

The study used results from the National Poison Data System, the system to which poison control call centers submit their call information.

Although the majority of supplement use did not result in medical problems, the study, published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, also calls for regulation of yohimbe and energy products, as they were associated with considerable toxicity.

The study emphasizes that its results demonstrate the success of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on products with ma huang, also known as ephedra, which has been used as a weight loss aid but has also been associated with considerable side effects including sudden cardiac death. However, both energy drinks and yohimbe have also been associated with side effects including cardiac issues.

The study notes that there were 274,998 dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012. The annual rate of dietary supplement exposures per 100,000 population was found to increase by 46.1 percent during 2000 to 2002, decrease 8.8 percent during 2002 to 2005 and then increase again by 49.3 percent from 2005 to 2012. These trends were said to be influenced by the decrease in ma huang exposures starting in 2002.

Miscellaneous dietary supplements made up 43.9 percent of all exposures, followed by botanicals (31.9 percent), hormonal products (15.1 percent) and other supplements (5.1 percent). The majority of dietary supplement exposures (70 percent) were found to occur among children younger than 6 years old and were acute (94 percent) and unintentional (82.9 percent).

Supplement intake led to serious medical outcomes in 4.5 percent of exposures and most of these outcomes (95 percent) occurred among individuals 6 years and older.

The study, “An Increase in Dietary Supplement Exposures Reported to US Poison Control Centers,” can be found here.

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