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When you don't know what you don't know, it can be deadly

Consumers in Connecticut and the rest of the country are big fans of taking vitamins and other dietary supplements. It's estimated to be a $26 billion industry. It has seen double-digit growth in the past five years. And according to one market research firm, vitamin supplements for the pediatric set accounts for nearly $575 million of the total.

The big problem with many of the products is that it's hard to know what is actually in the bottle. The label may say one thing, but what is actually in the product, who knows? Because there is no federal regulatory control over supplement production as there is over prescription drugs, consumers have to depend on the manufacturer's word for what's in it. Sometimes mistakes are made.

For example, a 2013 study by Kaiser Permanente of various adult over-the-counter vitamin D supplements found that the actual amount of the vitamin in each pill ranged anywhere from 9 to 146 percent of what the label claimed was in them.

It might be easy to dismiss concern over the issue if you think the body harmlessly flushes out what it doesn't need. But that's not always the case. A report in the journal Pediatrics recorded the cases of seven youngsters under the age of 4 who had overdosed on vitamin D. The supplements they took had 4,000 times more of the vitamin than they should have. They had to go through days of hospital treatment to recover.

And last fall, a premature baby died at a New Haven hospital. It was later determined that a probiotic supplement the child received had been contaminated with a deadly fungus. A wrongful death suit is pending in that case.

Looking for the USP seal of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention on the label is one way to be sure of a product's quality, but only one of the many children's vitamins available carries that seal. So you can see the potential risk to children is high.

The loss of a loved one due to a company's negligence can cause grief and pain that can halt everything in its tracks. Obtaining compensation for wrongful death can't come close to making up for that loss and anguish, but it can help address practical issues and may provide some solace around assigning proper accountability.

To learn what your options may be, you should contact an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

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