Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Teething medicines unsafe, FDA warns parents

Teething medicines unsafe, FDA warns parents

The FDA says products that contain the drug benzocaine can cause rare but deadly side effects especially for children under 2.

The agency on Wednesday said it wants manufacturers to stop selling products intended for babies and toddlers because the products contain a drug ingredient that can cause a rare but unsafe blood condition that interferes with normal breathing. The FDA has warned companies of legal action if these products are not removed from the market and their sales are not stopped for babies.

Along with asking companies to stop selling children's products with benzocaine, the FDA is also requesting more warning labels on all other benzocaine oral-health products. They said various gels and creams, including four Orajel teething brands, contain the drug Benzocaine.

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The danger the products pose could come in the form of methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the oxygen level in blood dips dangerously low; it can be fatal.

If lidocaine is used, healthcare staff should be familiar with appropriate dosing, proper administration techniques, and safety monitoring; benzocaine sprays are not FDA-approved to numb mucous membranes of the mouth and throat or to suppress the gag reflex during medical procedures. It's better to give your child a rubber teething ring or a gentle finger massage (frozen toys have been known to also cause oral injuries). The products are meant to temporarily alleviate pain in teething babies and children with sore gums. Instead of using over-the-counter products, parents can help their children cope with teething symptoms. They're concerned about an ingredient - the drug benzocaine.

Companies are being urged to voluntarily halt sales of-and parents are being urged to eschew-these sore gum treatments, which are commonly used to treat pain related to teething and other various mouth irritations. It is made by the New Jersey-based Church and Dwight Co. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache and rapid heart rate.

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Signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia may set in after using benzocaine for the first time, and could appear within minutes to 1 to 2 hours.

In January 2017, the FDA warned against homeopathic teething tablets after finding "inconsistent amounts of belladonna" that sometimes far exceeded the amounts indicated on the label.

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