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Topical Painkillers for Baby’s Teething Woes May Cause Serious Harm

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Viscous Lidocaine Not Safe for Baby’s Teething Pain

Doctors shouldn’t prescribe the topical painkiller viscous lidocaine 2% for baby’s suffering from teething pain, according to the FDA.  The agency recently released a statement warning parents and doctors alike that topical painkillers for teething babies are ineffective and can cause serious harm, including seizures, brain injuries, and heart problems.  The warning comes after the FDA reviewed 22 cases of serious reactions in babies related to viscous lidocaine.

Topical Painkiller Not Even Designed for Babies

The FDA stated that viscous lidocaine was not even designed for teething pain in babies.  Instead, the painkiller was designed for adults suffering from throat pain or oral procedures such as dental impressions.  It is meant to be swished around in the mouth and spit out, and when parents use it as a topical product for their teething babies, it can be easily ingested.  In the prescribing information for the product, it is cautiously suggested that the product can be used for mouth pain in children and infants.  However, because of the serious adverse effects in babies, the FDA is ordering a black box warning on all viscous lidocaine products.

FDA Issues Warning Over Other Oral Pain Gels

Aside from viscous lidocaine, the FDA is also warning over OTC oral pain gels sometimes used on infants.  Those gels contain a different anesthesia called benzocaine and can cause a serious condition known as methemoglobinemia. With methemoglobinemia, the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream is greatly reduced and this can result in death.  Safety issues related to these oral gels and their use in infants were first reported in 2011, and the FDA decided to reiterate the warning because of the dangers of viscous lidocaine.  So what’s a parent to do if they have a fussy and sore teething baby?  Instead of using one of these products, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 1) gently massaging your child’s gums with a clean finger or 2) offering a chewable teething ring (you can also place the teething ring in the refrigerator prior to giving it to your child).