Objectives: The objective of the present study was to investigate the types of dietary supplements administered to healthy 6-month-old infants and to identify the factors influencing the use of such supplements.
Subjects and Methods: The present study was based on the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study database. Questionnaires were used to collect information on the use of dietary supplements from birth, infant feeding practices, and other covariates at 6 months of age. We excluded low-birth-weight, preterm babies, and those whose caregivers returned incomplete questionnaires, leaving a sample size of 18,658. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the characteristics capable of predicting the use of supplements in this population. A total of 34.9% of infants were fed dietary supplements from birth.
Results: The most common types of supplements administered to infants were probiotics, calcium, and multivitamin/mineral supplements. Formula feeding, earlier weaning, and earlier complementary feeding were positively related to the use of several supplements.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that the use of pediatric dietary supplements is relatively common among infants in Taiwan, even in the earliest stages of life. For infants whose diet is adequate, no need exists for dietary supplements, and excessive intake can adversely influence health. Communication between health professionals and child caregivers should be promoted to increase understanding of infant feeding, as well as the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements.