US agency says beware of teething gels
NEW YORK, USA: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned parents and dental professionals in the US to administer teething pain relievers containing benzocaine to children. Cases of methemoglobinemia, a serious blood disorder that can be fatal, have increasingly been reported in infants treated with teething gels, the agency said. They recommended to use alternatives such as teething rings or massaging the gums of the teething children with fingers.
Besides teething gels, benzocaine is used as topical pain reliever in a wide variety of products including cough drops or condoms to prevent premature ejaculation. According to the FDA, effects of methemoglobinemia can occur following only a single administration of the gel or fluid and include shortness of breath, headache or rapid heart rate that can lead to death.
Pain relievers containing benzocaine are currently available as over-the-counter products in stores and pharmacies in the US. By now, some manufacturers are offering teething gels that are benzocaine-free.