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FDA issues warning about teething products for babies

As technology has made medical breakthroughs and advances not just possible but commonplace, the scientific community has striven to eliminate some of the side effects of natural processes that people find to be a nuisance.

Have cramps each month? Take a couple Midol to get through the worst of it. Don't want to breastfeed after giving birth? These pills will make your milk supply dry up pronto. Experiencing some intimacy problems in the bedroom? Take this little blue pill.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to mitigate unwanted effects of nature or the aging process. Looking and feeling your best can enhance your self-confidence and offer you the opportunity to succeed. But could science have overreached on some levels?

It's possible.

Teething remedies may be toxic

Since the first cavemen emerged, their offspring have coped with the natural process of teething. Babies who are teething typically are fussier than normal, drool quite a bit and often run a low fever for a day or so. Parents cope with this minor annoyance by paying extra attention to their distraught infants, dosing them with Tylenol and providing them with frozen teething devices designed to soothe sore gums.

But some companies went a step further and manufactured benzocaine products touted to take the sting out of this normal childhood milestone.

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents who bought these over-the-counter (OTC) teething remedies for their infants and toddlers — the cure may be far worse than the condition. Benzocaine has been linked to breathing problems from a blood condition.

This week, the FDA announced that oral gels for infants that contain benzocaine may cause potentially deadly but rare side effects in those age 2 and younger. It's asking that manufacturers of these products intended for use by infants and toddlers cease sales of the gels and creams.

Adults not at risk

Generations of adults have eased the pain of canker sores and mouth ulcers by applying a thin layer of OTC products like Anbesol and Orajel to the affected areas. So it's likely that parents don't automatically consider that the active ingredient — benzocaine — in the products that they've been buying for years could be toxic to their babies.

To combat the problem, the federal agency promises to take legal action against any companies that don't comply with the request to voluntarily remove any teething products containing benzoncaine for use in young children. FDA officials are also seeking new warnings on the packaging of adult products with benzocaine as an active ingredient.

What parents can do

Toss out any products for infants that contain benzocaine. If your child suffered harm or a worsened condition after using these products, you may want to look into taking legal action on his or her behalf.

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