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October 2022

Early Hum Dev. 1988 Aug-Sep; 17(2-3): 157-63.

Traditional Chinese infant supplementary medical foods given by mothers in Hong Kong.

Sung RY, Lui S, Lo L, Leung SS, Davies DP.

Department of Paediatrics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin.

Chinese mothers living in Hong Kong are used to giving their babies special medicinal food to strengthen the infant's internal defences and to restore the body's harmonious state. However since the majority of registered doctors are trained in the Western pharmacological tradition it is difficult for them to comprehend the concepts and idioms of this practice. This paper set out to investigate the frequency and varieties of medicinal foods given to 166 Chinese infants during the first 30 months after birth. One hundred and forty seven babies were given medicinal foods at some stage. The frequency of their administration varied from weekly to once or twice per month. The most popular medicinal food was "Job's tears" and the most widely administered compound herb preparations were milk preparation solution, flower teas and various cool teas. The potential pharmacological effects of these medicinal foods were searched from a Chinese medicines computerized database and found to be principally anti-inflammatory, bacteriostatic, diuretic and appetite stimulant. This study contributed a better appreciation of the popularity of infant supplementary medicinal foods in Hong Kong and the rationale for their use.

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