Gum-Numbing Medicine May Hurt Teething Babies


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Parents may want to try anything to ease a teething baby's suffering, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns them to avoid one type of product in particular. Oral anesthetics like Hurricaine, Orabase, and Orajel have proven to be extremely dangerous, and sometimes deadly, for young children.

Also called viscous lidocaine, these medications relieve mouth pain and are most commonly used by adults with ulcers. The FDA is now noticing a trend of parents giving the drug to teething children. This year alone, there have been 22 reports of viscous lidocaine overdose injuring and killing children younger than four years old. It may also impair a child's eating, raising risks for choking.

In addition, viscous lidocaine poses a risk for a serious condition called methemoglobinemia. This results in the blood lacking enough oxygen to travel to the body's organs. Small children are at a particular risk for this abnormality.

Medical professionals urge parents to use simpler means of helping their children cope with the pain of teething. They say that cool, massaging teething rings or washcloths are the best option for quickly relieving pain.

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Source: "Numbing medications can harm teething babies, FDA warns." CBS News. June 27, 2014.