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Oral Gel Proves Harmful to Kids

Posted on July 31 2012

One doesn’t need to be a parent to know that when babies start teething, it can be a painful experience for everyone in the family. Many look to oral anesthetics to temporarily relieve their child’s pain. However, a new warning from the FDA may change many parents’ minds on using an oral pain relievers on their small children.

Many oral pain relievers including, Anbesol, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Hurricane contain a benzocaine, an oral anesthetic that gives the numbing sensation these products provide. A new warning from the FDA links Benzocaine to a rare and conceivably deadly condition called methemoglobinemia.

Methemoglobinemia affects children by greatly reducing the amount of oxygen being carried through the blood stream. Adults can be affected by this condition too, since we commonly use a variety of benzocaine products including gels, sprays, and lozenges, just to name a few. Adults who have heart disease, respiratory illness (i.e. asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema), or are smokers, have the highest risk of developing the condition.

The FDA first warned about these benzocaine gels in 2006. In the six years that have passed, the FDA has received another 29 reported cases of benzocaine related cases of methemoglobinemia. In nineteen of these cases, the patients were children; and in fifteen out of the nineteen child patients, they were under the age of 2 years.

This child health risk is extremely alarming to the FDA, more because parents are unaware of the signs and symptoms of methemoglobinemia. With a condition that can affect a baby within just minutes to hours, it is important to be knowledgeable on the symptoms which include:

- Fatigue - Confusion - Headache - Shortness of breath - Increased, rapid, heart rate - Light-headedness - Pale, gray, or blue colored skin, lips, and nails

If a parent, or a child, is given an oral pain reliever that includes benzocaine and has an adverse reaction, immediately call 911 for help. Do not delay to get help as failure to treat this condition in a reasonable amount of time can lead to permanent injury to the brain and/or body tissues, and even death.

Suggestions for calming a teething baby without the use or an oral anesthetic include using a teething ring and massaging the child’s gums with your fingers or using an amber teething necklace. Unfortunately, teething is just a part of a baby’s life, and if you are a parent it will be part of your life too. Luckily, it is only a small part of their lives, and the stage will move on before you know it. If you are planning on using one of the oral pain reliving gels, consult your doctor first, and make sure you are using the correct product for the correct age.

  Sources Medical Daily - http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20120730/11156/benzocaine-teething-fda.htmYahoo Health - http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/hsn/teething-baby-avoid-benzocaine-fda-saysWedMD - http://www.webmd.com/fda/benzocaine-babies-not-good-mix

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