Beware of these teething products

FDA investigating 10 deaths; what parents can do to relieve pain and keep baby safe

If you’re looking for teething gels and tablets for your baby, beware of products currently being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA first warned against using homeopathic teething products in 2010, then again in September 2016 after an investigation found more than 400 reports of children having seizures, breathing problems and tremors. Now, the FDA is looking into 10 deaths that may be connected to these products.

To be clear, this is still an investigation, but the warning is one to be taken seriously.

Homeopathic teething products use belladonna, a potentially poisonous plant, to relieve pain. In small children, there is a strong risk of overdose, which can cause life-threatening side effects.

“Teething may be agonizing to go through — both for a child and parent,” said Elizabeth Doyle, M.D., pediatrician. “The good news is it doesn’t last forever and there are things you can do beyond the homeopathic products to bring relief to your child.”

Dr. Doyle recommends trying:

  • Chilled wash cloths: Soak a clean washcloth in water and then place in a clean bowl or plastic bag in the refrigerator. Then let baby hold and chew. The texture of the cloth helps massage the gums and the cool can help reduce swelling.
  • Chilled teething rings: Wash and chill in the refrigerator. Rings work well because they’re easy for babies to hold. You don’t want to freeze because very hard objects, such as ice, can damage gums.
  • Rubber teething toys: Babies love chewing on the firm texture, but rubber won’t damage gums. Watch for tears in the rubber. If you find any, throw the toy away to avoid a piece breaking off and being swallowed.
  • Hard food: Sometimes pressure on the gums can help with the pain. Try a full-size carrot or a specially made teething biscuit. Be sure to watch your baby the entire time. Once the item is small enough that it could be swallowed, take it away to avoid choking.

Nothing else working? Talk to your pediatrician about a painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be sure to use this only as much as your pediatrician recommends.

Remember, a fever or diarrhea is not part of teething. It may be that your child has a virus or some other infection. If those symptoms do not go away, if the fever is over 100 degrees or if your child is inconsolable, call your pediatrician right away.


Looking for a pediatrician in your area? Find an office near you or call (502) 629-KIDS.

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