Babies and young children are our most vulnerable consumers. Parents and caregivers trust manufacturers and retailers to sell baby products that are safe. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning to parents, manufacturers, and retailers to stop using and selling teething products that contain benzocaine because they can pose a serious threat to children’s lives.
Teething babies and children go through a great deal of discomfort from swelling and inflammation on their gums. Desperate to relieve some of their child’s pain, parents buy teething products that claim to relieve this pain with the ingredient benzocaine, which is a well-known anesthetic used to numb toothaches and cold sores in adults. What most parents do not know is that benzocaine can be deadly to children under two years of age.
Teething medications containing benzocaine come in gel form or in medicated teething swabs that are rubbed directly on the gums. The saliva in the mouth break down the medication quickly, which is then swallowed and ingested by the infants. Benzocaine can cause a serious condition called methemoglobinemia, where oxygen levels in the blood become depleted, causing rapid heart rate, dizziness, headache, pale or blue skin and nails, drowsiness, and difficulty breathing.
The effects of the medication can happen immediately and last for a short period of time, or up to several hours after application. Many manufacturers of children’s teething medications containing benzocaine have voluntarily discontinued their products.
The FDA had issued warnings to manufacturers and consumers previously on the dangers of benzocaine in 2011. Reports of 400 cases of methemoglobinemia and four deaths in children under the age of two have occurred since 1971. The FDA claims that these numbers could be low due to unreported cases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents use homeopathic remedies to relieve their child’s teething pain. Offering children cold or hard objects to chew on, such as waffles, rubber teething rings that have been chilled, a cold wash cloth, or a Popsicle can help numb and massage throbbing gums.
Massaging a child’s gums with your clean finger can also offer relief from the inflammation and pain. Doctors warn about putting teething products in the freezer, since icy objects can have sharp edges that can cut into a child’s gums.
Products containing benzocaine do not pose the same risks to adults as they do to children under the age of two. Adult products will remain on store shelves, but manufacturers are encouraged to include warnings on their packaging labels indicating the risk of methemoglobinemia.
If you or your child has been injured by a defective or dangerous product, you may be entitled to compensation. The New Jersey product liability lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP work diligently to help clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available. Call us at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Toms River, Edison, and Red Bank, and serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.