June 26, 2014 — Caregivers should not give infants lidocaine gel to treat teething pain because it can cause seizures, brain damage, heart problems, and even death.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed 22 case reports of serious adverse reactions, including 6 deaths, among infants and children under 3.5 years old who were given lidocaine gel (prescription oral viscous 2% solution) or they accidentally swallowed too much.
According to a Safety Communication:
“Topical pain relievers and medications that are rubbed on the gums are not necessary or even useful because they wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes. … Cases of overdose due to wrong dosing or accidental ingestion have resulted in infants and children being hospitalized or dying.”
What About OTC Teething Gels?
Caregivers should also avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) topical medications for teething pain because some of them can be harmful. In 2011, the FDA warned that OTC topical benzocaine gels for teething or mouth pain can cause a rare but serious condition known as methemoglobinemia, which causes life-threatening low oxygen in the infant’s bloodstream. Despite warnings, FDA has received 6 additional reports, bringing the total number of cases to 27. Click here to read more.
OTC benzocaine gels and liquids:
- Baby Orajel
Recommendations for Treating Teething Pain
American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:
- Use a teething ring chilled in the refrigerator (not frozen)
- Gently rub or massage the child’s gums with your finger to relieve the symptoms
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