FDA warns against teething products with benzocaine

25 May, 2018, 23:23 | Author: Keith Rowe
  • Health officials warn of teething gel side effects

Benzocaine-containing products sold over the counter to relieve babies' teething pain are too risky and should no longer be sold, the FDA said Wednesday. Also, it has informed all the manufacturers to stop selling such teething products, which contain benzocaine.

Products for adults can still contain benzocaine, but the FDA also wants companies to add additional warnings for those products going forward.

The agency has been warning about the products for a decade but said reports of illnesses and deaths have continued.

Benzocaine is associated with a unsafe health condition called methemoglobinemia, which causes the amount of oxygen carried through the blood to be greatly reduced.

According to the FDA, there have been approximately 400 cases of benzocaine-associated methemoglobinemia, with 11 patients younger than 2 years of age. The AAP notes that pain relievers and medications that are rubbed on the gums for teething are not useful because they wash out of the baby's mouth within minutes and may present safety concerns. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, sleepiness, headache, skin that is pale and nails that are blue or gray.

If you can see that the teeth are breaking through the surface, Logan says you can also give your child a small dose of Tylenol. Any mom or dad who's ever had to soothe a teething baby knows it's just about one of the toughest phases of parenthood. The agent is also found in generic teething products.


The FDA's warning is an update to a statement the regulatory agency made seven years ago.

In addition to warning consumers this week, the FDA sent a letter (pdf) to companies that sell these products, request that they discontinue any lines marketed for teething relief.

"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 recently advised parents to stop using such products that contain benzocaine.

"Here you have a product that doesn't really help and can induce harm", says Meeks. "No" and told parents to instead gently rub a child's gums with a finder or use a firm rubber teething ring.

Regulators have warned about the dangers of benzocaine in the past, AP said.

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