A warning was issued to parents late Wednesday about a powdered dietary supplement that may contain excessive quantities of lead and is sold in stores and online as a remedy for children suffering from a variety of ailments.
The product -- marketed as Bo Ying Compound -- is labeled in Chinese and English and has the potential to cause lead poisoning, said Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken, who issued the warning last night.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the product last week on the heels of toxicology tests in Maryland that found the product to contain copious amounts of lead. An 18-month-old suffered lead poisoning last year after being given Bo Ying, according to the New York City Health Department.
"Parents and caregivers should not use Bo Ying Compound, due to the potential risk of lead poisoning," Tomarken said in a statement. "Those caregivers who have the product in their homes should discard it, and those who may have already given Bo Ying Compound to their children should consult a health care provider for evaluations and possible blood-lead testing."
Chronic lead exposure -- even when levels are low -- has been linked to reduced IQ, behavioral problems and impaired brain function.
News of the tainted supplement comes amid an ongoing investigation of dietary supplements by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. He announced two weeks ago that he has been joined by a bipartisan group of 14 attorneys general who are calling for a congressional investigation of the dietary and herbal supplement industry.
However, to date he has limited his probe to herbal supplements, their retailers and manufacturers. He has not, however, turned his spotlight on the more widely sold powdered supplements that are sold for countless uses -- body building, common illnesses, male sexual enhancement, weight loss and hair growth, to name a few.
Over the years, the FDA's dietary supplement database on warnings issued to companies shows that products have been tainted with a vast array of potentially dangerous additives -- banned prescription drugs, steroids, amphetamines and a host of toxins.
A powdered probiotic sold nationwide last fall in stores and online killed a premature baby who had been under treatment in a Connecticut hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The product contained a fungus.
Dietary supplements do not have to meet rigorous testing by the FDA as do prescription drugs, experts say.
Many come from foreign countries where ingredients and manufacturing processes are never inspected, federal data show.