Some teething medicines unsafe for children

Some teething medicines unsafe for children

The Food and Drug Administration is asking manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers.

Benzocaine is also used in popular over-the-counter products for toothaches and cold sores in adults, including Orajel and Anbesol and generic drugstore brands.

On May 22, the FDA issued a warning about over-the-counter products containing benzocaine, citing "serious safety concerns" and a "lack of efficacy for teething".

More than 400 cases of benzocaine-associated methemoglobinemia have been reported to the FDA or in medical literature since 1971, according to a drug-safety communication the agency posted. It may lead to a life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia when oxygen in the blood dips to dangerously low levels. Between 2009 and 2017 there have been 119 cases of the rare blood disorder associated with benzocaine including deaths of four babies associated with the use of benzocaine. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache and rapid heart rate.

Here's what a new FDA warning says a parent should NOT do. "Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush", the AAPD website stated. Further, the academy has advised parents to avoid giving children frozen teething toys. The FDA says these products should no longer be used on children under 2. If the manufacturers don't comply with the order, the agency said it would take the necessary steps to remove the products from the market.

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The FDA's warning is an update to a statement the regulatory agency made seven years ago. Instead of relying on the medicine, the FDA suggests parents use a rubber teething ring, or gently massage the child's gums with a finger. In addition to finding benzocaine in teething products, you might also find it in products marketed for treating sore throats, canker sores, and mouth and gum irritation.

Benzocaine is found in many popular teething products sold as gels, sprays, ointments, solutions and lozenges.

Teething can be a hard time for infants.

When buying OTC oral health drug products, consumers should refer to the OTC Drug Facts Label to see if benzocaine is an active ingredient and, if using these products, look for signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia.

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