FDA issues warning against some teething pain relief products - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

FDA issues warning against some teething pain relief products


The FDA has issued a warning, urging parents not to use products containing benzocaine to relieve teething pain. Benzocaine is commonly found in over-the-counter products, including Baby Orajel.

After reviewing its records, the FDA found multiple cases of children coming down with a rare condition called methemoglobinemia.  All of the cases involved children under two, who were given products that have benzocaine---a strong, numbing pain reliever.

What's frightening--it's easy to overuse such gels.  And with too much benzocaine, methoemoglobinemia can set in and have serious consequences

Kelsie Matthias is a stay-at-home mom of two little girls:  Izzy, age four, and baby Summer, 15 months.  Summer is still having some pain from teething.

"When they're crabby,  you want them to feel better for your sanity, and their's, of course!" Matthias said.

Matthias says Summer's not had too much trouble with teething.  But the process of getting pearly whites was much tougher for big sister Izzy.  Matthias says Baby Orajel was one way she helped Izzy get through the pain.  So it's concerning to her to know products like it could be harmful.

"We had no idea.  So it is a little scary to hear that.  You just trust if it's out there, you trust that it's going to be safe for your kids," said Matthias.

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS says benzocaine is a safe product, but it's easy for parents to use too much. And using too much can lead to methemoglobinemia.  It happens about 30 times a year.

"...which decreases the oxygen levels in your child and can result in purple skin, purple lips, pale color in nail beds and tissue around the mouth.  And it's something that can cause death," Dr. Beecher says.

So before you resort to using medicine to relieve your child's teething pains, experts suggest trying simple remedies.

"Use a clean, chilled washcloth or your clean, washed hands and just gently massage the tissues that you can see the tooth coming, or you can see it's gently swollen in your child's mouth," said Dr. Beecher.

Kelsie Matthias has found her daughter's mouth pain is eased by giving her drops of yogurt she freezes ahead of time.  And thankfully, teething is a temporary trouble, which is just a small part of growing up.

Teething rings are another alternative to using medicine.  But doctors recommend only refrigerating them before use.

If your child doesn't get relief with such remedies, Dr. Beecher recommends using only a very small amount of over-the-counter medicine, not more than four times daily.  And dry the affected area before applying it.

The FDA recommends not using benzocaine products in kids under two to prevent problems.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include:

-pale, gray or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds

-shortness of breath





-rapid heart rate

Rarely these symptoms can result in coma and death.

Symptoms typically appear within less than two hours of using a product containing benzocaine.  If you notice any of the signs listed above, immediately call 911.

You can read more about the FDA's warning by clicking here.

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