WEDNESDAY, May 23, 2018 (HealthDay News) - Consumers should stop using over-the-counter teething products that contain benzocaine because they pose a serious health threat to infants and young children, US health officials warned Wednesday.
The agency said it will take action against companies that don't voluntarily remove benzocaine products for young children.
Products for adults can still contain benzocaine, but the FDA also wants companies to add additional warnings for those products going forward. "In addition, we are adding warning statements to more clearly identify the risks and symptoms presented by methemoglobinemia, a rare but serious condition associated with the use of benzocaine".
Officials reviewed 119 cases of the blood disorder linked to benzocaine between 2009 and 2017, including four deaths, according to the FDA. Rapid heart rate, headache, lightheadedness, difficulty in breathing, sleepiness, pale skin, and blue or gray eyes are some of the symptoms of methemoglobinemia.
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. "Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush", the AAPD website stated.
So if baby's teething, now what?
Baby teething products have been linked to a deadly condition and will be removed from shelves. The symptoms can start minutes after a product is used or up to one to two hours later.
It is made by the New Jersey-based Church and Dwight Co.
Teething can be a hard time for infants.
Benzocaine exists in products like Orajel and Anbesol, which treat mouth sores in adults. The FDA also previously cautioned parents and caregivers to not give certain homeopathic teething tablets to children and to seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives.
"Here you have a product that doesn't really help and can induce harm", says Meeks. Instead of relying on the medicine, the FDA suggests parents use a rubber teething ring, or gently massage the child's gums with a finger.
In previous communications, the FDA had warned the public about reports of methemoglobinemia in individuals using OTC benzocaine gels and liquids as well as benzocaine sprays for medical procedures.