FDA warns teething medicines unsafe, wants them off shelves

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Parents often turn to products like Orajel to relieve their child's pain, but those products might not be the best option.

The traditional recommendation of a gentle massage with your fingers on your child's gums is the go-to treatment. These gels and creams contain the drug benzocaine that is a local anesthetic gel and can numb the area stopping the pain.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a stance against teething products containing benzocaine, urging parents to not use them on infants and children.

What this means is over-the-counter teething products containing the pain reliever benzocaine pose a serious health risk to infants and children, and companies should stop selling them.

The FDA is also requiring manufacturers of all prescription local anesthetics to standardize warning information about the risk of methemoglobinemia in product labeling across this class of products.

In addition, the FDA has asked manufacturers of OTC benzocaine-containing oral drug products to make changes to the labeling with regard to use in adults and children over the age of 2. In September 2016, the agency warned parents not to use homeopathic teething tablets and gels. Some of the more common brand names are Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, Hurricaine, Orabase, Orajel, and Topex. Methemoglobinemia is a unsafe condition that results from elevated levels of methemoglobin, causing oxygen carried through the blood to be reduced, which can ultimately lead to death.

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The FDA expects manufactures to voluntarily remove their products as soon as possible.

Benzocaine can cause a condition called methmoglobinemia, which can be deadly. Signs and symptoms may occur after using benzocaine for the first time, or after prior uses and may appear within minutes to 1 to 2 hours after using benzocaine. Also, it suggested parents rub their babies' gums, which will give babies temporary relief.

Cold washcloth, spoon, or chilled teething ring can also soothe the baby's gums.

Officials say if you or your child show any symptoms, which include weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty breathing and/or pale-, grey- or blue-coloured skin, you should go see a health practitioner immediately.

Paducah pediatrician Dr. Van Meeks says there are major concerns with long-term use of the products.