Is Echinacea Safe For Your Baby?

Written by Aditi Majumder • 

From the time babies are born till they grow up, parents are at a constant fix about what is good for them and what is not. The period from the fourth to the 12th month is a crucial stage as that is when your baby develops his immune system. Before giving any medicinal herb or drug to babies, it is important to discuss the benefits, risks and effects associated with it. The growing popularity of echinacea has brought up several questions about its safety and effectiveness. Let us highlight some of the facts and details about this herb that would help you evaluate it better and then decide its usage for your baby.

What Is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a herb which, when taken as tablets or drops, combats diseases like flu, cold, tonsillitis, ear and sinus infections. It is believed to boost the immune system in children if given from an early age.

[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding Your Baby ]

What Does Echinacea Do To Your Child?

When prescribed by the doctor and taken according to recommended medication, it is known to strengthen and stimulate the primary immune structure of children. The number of drops prescribed to a child is usually determined by his weight and is taken with juice or food.

How Safe Is It For Babies?

Being a mother, the safety question might have always popped in your head. Echinacea is a medication that works up the immunity system in an artificial manner. It almost acts like a substitute of the inbuilt immunity system of babies. Therefore, the question remains whether or not it is helpful to give your child a synthetic resistance system.

It has been gathered from various medical analysis that Echinacea may stunt the growth of your baby’s natural immunity system. Your baby starts developing as a human being right from inside your womb. His immunity system too matures during this period and it is crucial that it emerges the most natural manner.

During this time, breastmilk is sufficient to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy development and to boost the immune system. Echinacea is an artificial way of implementing what natural foods are also capable of providing to your baby.

[ Read: Baby Ear Infection ]

Side Effects Of Echinacea For Babies:

According to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), echinacea might cause the swelling of mouth and tongue, certain rashes and even anaphylactic shock. Medical research suggest that children below the age of 12 should not be given prescribed echinacea for it may cause low allergic reactions. Since it is quite effective on babies, there is a chance that any undesirable effects may also condition your child. Children who are prone to cold must be subjected to a very cautious use of it if they have to. The following are a few side effects that have been seen according to research:

  • Blood disorders.
  • Formation of clots in the blood vessels.
  • Chances of an increased risk of ear infection.
  • A reduced count of white blood cells when used on a long-term basis.
  • Allergic reactions such as skin swelling, hives or rashes
  • Swelling of the skin and face
  • Blocking of the lungs’ airways
  • Asthma and anaphylactic shock

MHRA has come to this conclusion based on the observations of the European Herbal Medicinal Products Committee (HMPC) and the UK Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC).

The agency said: “They both concluded that the perceived benefits of the use of echinacea in children under 12 years are outweighed by the potential risks in this age-group and there is a low risk of allergic reactions but these could be severe.”

[ Read: Allergies In Babies ]

Should I Be Worried?

There should not be a major cause of worry if you have already medicated your baby with echinacea. According to MHRA, it is not a safety issue or a health hazard. If parents have given the echinacea drops to their children previously, they should not worry about it, if it hasn’t caused any problems so far.

Babies need more attention than ever during their early stage of life and who would know that better than a mother? It is important to assess every detail of any medication for your baby and we hope this article has helped you gauge the purposes and effects of echinacea. If you have ever used echinacea and have tips or information, feel free to share them with us.

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