Consumer News

Dietary Supplements Could Cause Miscarriage And Fetal Harm, FDA Warns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warmed pregnant women about an ingredient in dietary supplements that causes miscarriage and fetal harm. The synthetic compound, when combined with other ingredients, supposedly improves cognitive performance, reduce body fat and increases energy.

The National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health recently released a report about the dangers of the synthetic compound vinpocetine found in dietary supplements. The ingredient is typically labeled as “Vinca minor extract,” “common periwinkle extract” or “lesser periwinkle extract” in dietary supplements.

The ingredient was found to decrease fetal weight and increase the chances of a miscarriage among pregnant animals used in a lab test. The blood levels of these subjects were found similar to pregnant women who have been taking the dietary supplement, particularly those who had experienced miscarriages. Thus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration highly discourages the use of products that has this component.

According to the department’s principal deputy commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy and Deputy Commission for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas, the supplements are widely available for purchase to women. Thus, they are advised to read the labels before purchasing those that have vinpocetine. Moreover, distributors and manufacturers of products containing the compound were urged to evaluate the safety requirements before they market items to ensure that pregnant women can clearly avoid taking them.

The FDA also warned that the sale of adulterated or misbranded dietary supplements without meeting federal standards shall be liable to the government. The labels must properly indicate the ingredients. Therefore, dietary supplements with vinpocetine must contain a warning before entering the market.

More than half of all Americans take dietary supplements regularly. In fact, the FDA has imposed measures to prevent the sale of harmful products to certain individuals with sensitive health conditions to properly regulate the sale where proper labeling is not observed, according to CNN.

They also established the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List and advised the public to report companies that sell supplements which contain unlawful ingredients particularly those that do not have any warnings. The public was also highly encouraged to first check labels before purchasing these types of products, especially child-bearing women to prevent miscarriage and fetal harm.

Miscarriage A still-born miscarriage with the mother's hand. Nicci Coertze-Kruger/Pixabay