FDA Cites Dangers To Babies
Most over-the-counter teething gels contain a drug called benzocaine -- this is what causes the numbing action and can bring relief to a teething baby. The problem, however, is that benzocaine can lead to a rare but very serious condition called methemoglobinemia.
Methemo … what?
Methemoglobinemia is a condition where the amount of oxygen carried by the blood is greatly reduced. In some cases, it can be very serious and sometimes fatal. Warning signs include blue or gray lips, skin or fingernail beds, rapid heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath, confusion and light-headedness.
If you notice any of these symptoms after giving benzocaine to your baby, don’t hesitate -- call 911.
“Symptoms can occur within minutes to hours after benzocaine use,” said FDA pharmacist Mary Ghods, R.Ph. “They can occur after using the drug for the first time, as well as after several uses.”
None for the under-two crowd
Babies are big users of benzocaine, as the over-the-counter drug is a common treatment for teething pain. However, the FDA recommends that parents and caregivers use something else for kids under two, as methemoglobinemia is a greater risk in tots of this age.
Even if you don’t keep any in your house, be sure to tell baby’s grandparents and other caregivers.
This may leave parents scrambling for another teething remedy. A parent’s finger, applied along the sore gums, may provide some relief. Give your baby a teething ring to chew on also -- some can be put in the refrigerator or freezer to numb the gum a bit as well. Some parents will soak a washcloth in water or breast milk and then freeze it for little ones to gnaw on. If your child seems to not respond to these methods, contact your care provider for more help.