The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned last week against using a lidocaine solution as a pain reliever on teething babies’ gums, saying it can cause death and serious injuries in infants and toddlers.
The agency will require a boxed warning on the label for prescription oral viscous lidocaine 2 percent solution to highlight that it should not be used for teething pain, Reuters reports. The FDA reviewed 22 reports this year of serious reactions, including deaths, in children ranging in age from 5 months to 3.5 years who were given the lidocaine solution or who swallowed it by accident.
Topical pain relievers and medications that are rubbed on the gums are not necessary or even useful because they wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes, the FDA explains. When too much viscous lidocaine is given to infants and young children or they accidentally swallow too much, it can result in seizures, severe brain injury, and heart problems.
The FDA urges parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for treating teething pain. The academy calls for using a chilled teething ring, or gently massaging the child’s gums.
In 2011, the FDA warned that using over-the-counter benzocaine gels for teething or mouth pain can cause a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia. This condition results in a large decrease in the amount of oxygen carried through the blood. It is life threatening and can result in death. OTC benzocaine gels and liquids are sold under such brand names as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, Orabase, and as store brands.