Teething child? Read this NOW
Every parent knows what it’s like to deal with a teething child.
The poor dear is in pain, and of course he doesn’t know why. All he knows is that it hurts. Hoping to bring relief mom dabs a little Baby Orajel, or a product like it, on his tiny gums.
It’s a harmless way to soothe the pain for a little while, right?
Not so fast. For years, people have thought so. During teething, parents have turned to Baby Orajel along with other products including Anbesol, Orajel, Orabase, and Hurricane. All of them have one thing in common: They contain benzocaine.
And the FDA is now reporting that benzocaine could lead to a deadly condition in children under the age of two. Prime teething time, and prime time for dabbing on those oral pain relievers.
Using benzocaine gels and liquids to relieve pain in the gums and mouth can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. It’s a deadly condition in which the amount of oxygen moving through the bloodstream reduces dramatically.
The symptoms can start showing up within minutes to hours after use of the product. And they aren’t always easy to recognize. They include pale, gray, or blue colored skin, lips, and nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; light-headedness; and rapid heart rate. Frighteningly several of these symptoms are ones that a one-year-old child wouldn’t be able to communicate to you.
If a child has these symptoms after being given benzocaine, you should call 911 immediately.
The FDA is recommending that parents stop using benzocaine for teething pain in babies except under the advice of a health care professional.
But here’s the thing. The symptoms of methemoglobinemia can occur whether you’re using the product for the first time or after several times. So what information is a health professional going to provide that can predict the occurrence or in any way reassure you that your child is not at risk for the condition?
There’s no reason for the FDA to make any allowances for these products. The recommendation should be to stop using them, period. No “except,” no “only if.” Just stop.
Instead, you can soothe that poor baby’s pain the old-fashioned way. A teething ring chilled in the fridge can work wonders, as can using your finger to gently massage his gums.
“Teething Baby? Avoid Benzocaine, FDA Says,” Medline Plus (www.nlm.nih.gov)