The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned parents on Wednesday about the dangers posed by teething remedies that contain the numbing ingredient benzocaine.
Deadly Side Effect Linked To Benzocaine
The FDA said that the drug used in various gels and creams can cause potentially deadly side effects in children, particularly those below 2 years old.
Benzocaine can cause a rare blood condition associated with breathing problems that may lead to death, as the pain-relieving ingredient interferes with an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood.
"Because of the lack of efficacy for teething and the serious safety concerns we've seen with over-the-counter benzocaine oral health products, the FDA is taking steps to stop use of these products in young children and raise awareness of the risks associated with other uses of benzocaine oral health products," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement released on May 23.
The FDA advised that consumers should refer to the OTC Drug Facts Label to check if the oral health drug product they are buying uses benzocaine as an active ingredient.
Safer Remedies For Teething Babies
There are also other ways to soothe baby's sore gums. Pressure from rubbing the baby's gums with a clean finger or a moistened gauze pad may help ease the baby's discomfort.
Cold washcloth, spoon, or chilled teething ring can also soothe the baby's gums. Opt for teething rings made of firm rubber instead of those made of latex or plastic. A wooden teether may also work albeit these teethers need to be oiled or beeswaxed before they are used.
If the baby already eats solid food, trying giving something edible for gnawing. Peeled and chilled carrots and cucumbers are good options, but do look after the baby since the pieces that break off may pose choking hazard.
Inflammation from teething may also stimulate pain-causing nerves, so reducing inflammation may help relieve baby's pain. Parents can avoid giving food such as refined sugar, potatoes, and flour, which can cause inflammation. Stress can also cause inflammation, so the baby needs to get enough rest and healthy food in addition to milk.
Boosting the baby's immune system may also help, as many babies also suffer from runny nose and fever while cutting teeth. Breast-feeding the baby, boosting sleep time, and banishing cigarette smoke at home may help boost the child's immunity.