FDA warns that some popular teething meds could be fatal for babies

It's the warning from the Food and Drug Administration that no parent wants to hear. Recently, the FDA warned parents against the use of benzocaine--the active ingredient in popular over-the-counter gels and creams that help relieve tooth pain--in babies younger than 2 years old. I say I don't want to hear it because my baby--three months old tomorrow!--is about to enter teething baby territory.

Apparently, benzocaine can lead to an uncommon but very serious condition called methemoglobinemia. While I can't even pronounce that, I do know this: the condition, which reduces the amount of oxygen in a baby's blood, could lead to death in the most severe cases.

In laymen's terms: My baby could die from using products containing benzocaine!


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The ingredient, a very common pain relief medicine, is found in all of the over-the-counter, easily available teething products marketed for babies, like Baby Orajel, Anbesol Babies, and others. This is beyond terrifying for my husband and I. We're just now starting to discuss Sebastian's teething since we know it will soon be rearing its scary head. The baby is already drooling like crazy and has started to vigorously suck on his little fist and plastic toys.

What makes this even scarier is that it's hard to detect the symptoms of methemoglobinemia, and they're often attributed to other ailments. The signs of this include pale or blue-colored skin, lips and nail beds, shortness of breath, confusion, rapid heart rate, and fatigue, which honestly all sound like they could be signals of a flu or virus.

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If, like me, you're in this situation, the FDA recommends instead that you give your baby refrigerator-chilled teething rings and toys or to gently massage the baby's gums with your fingers. Good to know! But just to be safe, tomorrow first thing I'm following Mami's advice and heading to the Latino aisle of my local drugstore to pick up a couple of boxes of Humphreys Teething Relief! 

What do you think of this warning? Have you used these products to help with teething pain in the past? 

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: healthy kids  dangers  teething