FDA: Teething anesthetics could be deadly for children

FDA Some teething anesthetics could potentially be deadly for infants

The Federal Drug Administration says the drug benzocaine is in some gels sold to help infants and toddlers with teething.

FDA is asking manufacturers to stop selling products for young children containing the medication.

The danger the products pose could come in the form of methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the oxygen level in blood dips dangerously low; it can be fatal.

The FDA said it will take legal action against companies that don't voluntarily remove their products for young children.

Church & Dwight Co., which sells and markets Orajel products for teething, said in a statement that the safety of its customers and their children is its highest priority, and it is immediately discontinuing the distribution and sale of Orajel teething products containing benzocaine.

The FDA has been warning about the products for a decade but said reports of illnesses and deaths have continued. That includes Orajel Medicated Teething Gel, Orajel Medicated Nighttime Teething Gel, Orajel Medicated Daytime & Nighttime Teething Twin Pack and Orajel Medicated Teething Swabs.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a release there are "no demonstrated benefits" from the benzocaine products.

Benzocaine is also used in popular over-the-counter products for toothaches and cold sores in adults, including Orajel and Anbesol and dozens of generic drugstore brands.

The agency said Wednesday that various gels containing the drug benzocaine can cause rare but deadly side effects in children, especially those 2 years and younger. In that statement, the FDA said it planned to monitor benzocaine products, and would update advisories as needed.

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

It's also not the first teething product that the FDA has cautioned against.

Try gently rubbing or massaging the gums with one of your fingers.

When buying OTC oral health drug products, consumers should refer to the OTC Drug Facts Label to see if benzocaine is an active ingredient and, if using these products, look for signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia. The OTC benzocaine products should only be used sparingly in adults, and children 2 years and older and not more than four times a day.

Pain relievers and medications that you rub on the gums are not necessary or useful since they wash out of the baby's mouth within minutes.

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