Health Care

FDA: Teething anesthetics could be deadly for children

FDA: Teething anesthetics could be deadly for children

The health agency is also asking that companies add warnings for adults and children age 2 and up to oral-health products containing benzocaine, a common ingredient in pain-relieving oral gels, sprays, ointments and lozenges.

The FDA warned about the potential dangers of benzocaine in 2006 and 2011, and has said parents shouldn't use the products in children younger than 2. The agency also wants all products that contain the pain reliever to include warnings about infant use, including Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Orabase and Prestige Brands Holdings Inc.'s Chloraseptic for treating sore throats.

The FDA said parents and caregivers should stop using the products and companies should stop selling them.

The use of benzocaine can lead to methemoglobin in the blood which can lead to death. 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.

If your child is experiencing pain while teething, Logan recommends teething rings that are chilled but not frozen.

They advise speaking with your doctor before using them especially if you have heart disease, are elderly, a smoker or have breathing problems such as asthma or emphysema.

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Check your teething relief product labels to see if benzocaine is an active ingredient. Signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia (which is a methemoglobin level above 10 percent) include shortness of breath, cyanosis, mental status changes, headache, fatigue, exercise intolerance, dizziness, and loss of hairlines.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), oral teething gels or creams are not of much use because they get washed away in saliva in a few minutes.

"Its always been an issue with the choking and this is a new warning the fda has come out with for certain children that are predisposed to this", Lykins said.

The FDA is requiring manufacturers of all FDA-approved prescription local anesthetics to standardize warning information about the risk of methemoglobinemia in product labeling across this class of products.

"Here you have a product that doesn't really help and can induce harm", says Meeks. The FDA warned consumers about stopping the overuse of the teething products containing benzocaine.