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Benzocaine Teething Remedies Can Harm Babies

Filed July 31st, 2012 Laurie

The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents not to use benzocaine-containing products, including Anbesol, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase and Hurricane, to treat their child’s teething pain unless they do so under the supervision of a physician.

Benzocaine – an ingredient used in liquids and gels to relieve gum and mouth pain – can cause a potentially fatal disease called methemoglobinemia, in which the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream is significantly reduced.

The FDA first warned of the dangers of benzocaine in 2006, and has received 29 reports of benzocaine-related methemoglobinemia since then.

The symptoms of methemoglobinemia include pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips and nail beds; shortness of breath; fatigue; confusion; headache; light-headedness and rapid heart rate. Symptoms can occur within minutes to hours after benzocaine use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents give children a teething ring that has been chilled in the refrigerator, or use a finger to gently massage the child’s gums.

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