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Self-Care

Don't Be Fooled by Fraudulent Dietary Supplement Campaigns for Kids


Dietary supplements are the rage, but are child-oriented promotional campaigns crossing the line? With the trend toward marketing herbs and other non-traditional dietary supplements for children's use, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is raising objections. Products are being advertised for maintaining kids' health as well as for treating their ailments.

"We're very concerned about how some of these products are being portrayed in advertisements," said Jodi Bernstein, director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The FTC offers the following tips to think about before you give your child a dietary supplement:

Many dietary supplements, especially herbal products, have not been tested in children to determine their safety or effectiveness.

Dietary supplements in this country are not held to any set of federal standards for quality or purity.

Your best advisor is your child's pediatrician or another healthcare provider. Be sure to check with them before starting your child on a supplement. And keep them informed of your child's continuing use of the product.

Supplements advertised as "natural" are not necessarily safe. In fact, herbs, like other so-called natural products, can have powerful drug-like effects. Some of these effects can be especially risky for people who take other medicines or have certain medical conditions.

Fraudulent promoters often fall back on the same claims to trick consumers into buying their products. Tip-offs that they're trying to fool you are:

    • Claims that the product is a "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "exclusive product," "secret ingredient," or "ancient remedy."

"Ask yourself, ‘if a product is so amazing, why would I be reading about it for the first time in an ad?'" said Bernstein.

    • Claims that the product is a quick and effective cure for a wide range of ailments.

    • Claims that use medical terms that sound impressive. This ploy is an attempt to cover up a lack of good science.

    • Claims that the government, medical profession and healthcare industry are in a conspiracy to suppress the advertised product.

    • Undocumented case histories of people who have had supposedly amazing results.

    • Claims that the product is available from only one source, and payment is required in advance.

    • Claims of a "money-back guarantee."nt of sparkler-related accidents.

For more information call (877) FTC-HELP or visit the Federal Trade Commission's Web site at www.ftc.gov.


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