Babies’ Teething Woes Attract Additional Concerns

Reviewed: May 09, 2013
By eHealthIQ

Teething is a painful event all young children must endure. To help ease the process, many parents use over-the-counter preparations that numb little ones’ gums. Yet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to warn against using solutions containing benzocaine, a topical anesthetic. The remedy can cause serious side effects, especially in children under the age of two, and severe cases may be fatal.The FDA first issued a warning in 2006 about the potential for developing methemoglobinemia, a condition that significantly reduces the amount of oxygen carried in the blood, after using benzocaine products. The majority of cases have occurred in children and slightly more than half occurred in children under two. Symptoms can be difficult to spot, making the danger to young ones even greater.The FDA recommends that parents avoid using benzocaine preparations, especially for children under the age of two, unless advised by a health care professional. When using pain remedies containing benzocaine, watch for symptoms such as confusion, fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, headache, and pale, bluish or grayish skin, lips or nail beds. If symptoms occur, call 911.The difficulty in detecting symptoms in young children is further complicated by the fact that symptoms can appear within minutes or not for hours after use. Use may also be problem-free for several instances before symptoms develop. For this reason, the report recommends alternative remedies, such as a teething ring that has been cooled in the refrigerator or gently massaging the child’s gums.The FDA report notes that adults can also contract methemoglobinemia through the use of anesthetic lozenges, sprays or topical products. Doctors and dentists frequently use benzocaine to provide numbing during various procedures, and adults who smoke or who have heart disease, asthma, bronchitis or other breathing difficulties should discuss the use of benzocaine with their health care providers.Source: CNN/FDAhttp://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/01/fda-warns-about-benzocaine-in-baby-pain-gels/?hpt=he_c2
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm306062.htm

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