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FDA warns parents on using benzocaine to relieve pain of teething babies

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday warned parents against administering benzocaine to their teething babies and advised that parents not use benzocaine at all in children under the age of 2 years unless under the supervision of a family physician.

"Benzocaine is a local anesthetic and can be found in such over-the-counter products as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase," the agency stated. "But the use of benzocaine gels and liquids for mouth and gum pain can lead to a rare but serious — and sometimes fatal — condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced."

The FDA first warned about potential dangers in 2006, and since then the agency has received 29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia. Nineteen of those cases occurred in children, and 15 of the 19 cases occurred in children under 2 years of age, stated FDA pharmacist Kellie Taylor.

“Symptoms can occur within minutes to hours after benzocaine use,” commented Mary Ghods, also an FDA pharmacist. “They can occur after using the drug for the first time, as well as after several uses.”

For the full FDA consumer report, click here.


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