Warning on echinacea for children

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned yesterday that parents should not use oral herbal products containing echinacea for children aged younger than 12.

“This is not a serious safety issue but parents and carers need to be aware that children under 12 could have a low risk of developing allergic reactions, such as rashes from oral echinacea products,” the MHRA’s head of herbal medicine policy Richard Woodfield said.

The move follows advice from the European Herbal Medicinal Products Committee and from the UK Medical Advisory Committee that the potential risks of echinacea in this age group outweigh the benefits.

The risks were reduced in adults and older children because they are heavier and have fewer colds, the experts said.

In the UK, echinacea products registered for use in children aged 6–12 years will have to be labelled with the new warning, Mr