FDA WARNING: Teething Medications Deadly In Infants
A teething baby can be an unhappy baby, and it’s not uncommon for parents and caregivers to try and soothe their little one with over-the-counter oral/”gum numbing” medications. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) officials now warn that teething babies don’t need medicine on their gums and in fact, these popular remedies can cause serious injury and even lead to death.
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In a June 25 article released on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, the agency states that local anesthetics known as viscous lidocaine, or benzocaine-containing teething products, should never be used for teething children, unless under the direction and supervision of a doctor.
Viscous lidocaine is a gel-like syrup that’s used as a local anesthetic, typically to treat mouth ulcers in chemotherapy patients. It requires a prescription.
Benzocaine can be found in many popular over-the-counter products like Baby Orajel, Anbesol, Hurricaine and Orabase.
These local anesthetics contain ingredients that can lead to overdoses and a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. Children under age 2 are at particular risk and according to FDA pharmacist Mary Ghods, R.Ph., the most severe cases can end in death
Symptoms of overdose include:
- Falling asleep too easily
- Vision problems
“Teething is a normal phenomenon; all babies teethe,” says Ethan Hausman, M.D., a pediatrician and pathologist at FDA. “FDA does not recommend any sort of drug, herbal or homeopathic medication or therapy for teething in children.”
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Instead, the FDA supports:
- gently rubbing or massaging the gums with your finger, and
- giving your child a cool teething ring or a clean, wet, cool washcloth to chew on
The FDA is now requiring a warning label to be included on all over-the-counter oral numbing products.
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