Teething Tablets Recalled

Teething is a normal part of being an infant and toddler and rarely requires any medication. Over the course of two years, children will “cut” twenty teeth. During that time, teething is blamed for everything from poor sleep to diarrhea to colds and fevers. Some of this is true … some is folklore. Pain is the most concerning symptom of teething, and it is understandable that parents would like to fix this as much as possible. But falling into the trap of over-medicating a normal process can be dangerous.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has issued a recall for homeopathic teething tablets and gels used on babies’ gums. The agency’s first warning, from 2010, concerned the ingredient belladonna (aka deadly nightshade) in large doses can cause flushing, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Belladonna was found in inconsistent doses in the banned product (Hylands Teething Tablets) and adverse events were reported to the FDA.  The recall, which went into full effect in April 2017, comes as adverse events, including seizures, continue to be reported to the FDA by consumers. Any remaining tablets should be discarded.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends avoiding over-the-counter teething gels of any kind and prescription products containing viscous lidocaine or benzocaine. Benzocaine can cause methemoglobinemia, a rare but life-threatening condition in which the blood fails to carry oxygen correctly. This condition is particularly deadly in children under the age of two. So, throw away any products that might still be in your medicine cabinet left over from older children or from dental procedures.

And while you’re tossing the old gels from your medicine cabinet, get rid of those amber teething necklaces that are becoming ubiquitous. There is zero evidence these work to decrease teething pain. They are a strangulation hazard, period. Don’t believe the hype on these necklaces.

To relieve teething pain, allow your baby opportunities to chew on cool objects. Teething toys, placed briefly into the refrigerator to cool off, work great to locally numb sore gums. A cool, wet washcloth also works wonders. Do not freeze teething objects because they can crack or cause frostbite! For times when the discomfort seems particularly bad, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be appropriate. If the discomfort seems out of proportion to what you would expect, have your pediatrician examine your child.


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