Breaking News: Are Homeopathic Teething Products Toxic to Babies? FDA Advises Parents to Avoid
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a safety alert that homeopathic teething gels and tablets, such as those distributed by Hyland’s, CVS, and possibly others, may cause seizures and other dangerous side effects in babies.
As a parent, it’s tough to watch your baby in pain, such as the kind that comes with teething. However, you should think twice before reaching for homeopathic teething remedies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a safety alert that homeopathic teething gels and tablets, such as those distributed by Hyland’s, CVS, and possibly others, may cause seizures and other dangerous side effects in babies. The FDA warns against buying these products, and recommends tossing them if you have them at home.
“The ingredient in question is belladonna, which is a medicinal plant that’s been used throughout history to treat a number of illnesses, such as motion sickness and Parkinson’s disease, but that is actually a hallucinogenic with all kinds of bad side effects,” says Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health pediatrician Dr. Michael McKenna. “Belladonna mainly affects the nervous system, and could make your pupils dilate and possibly cause you to stop sweating and salivating.”
He says that homeopathic medicines, such as these teething products, are listed as supplements and thus not regulated by the FDA. This means that the manufacturers of these products don’t have to prove any claims about effectiveness, nor do they have to list all of the ingredients. “It’s a double whammy because these products aren’t proven to work, and you have no idea what’s in them exactly,” says Dr. McKenna. The FDA says “Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation.”
While some of these symptoms are hard to pinpoint in babies, Dr. McKenna says, “If your baby has stopped urinating, his face is red, he is inconsolable, or, depending on his age, he doesn’t want to wake up to eat even after six to eight hours, this is a red flag and you should see a doctor.”
Instead of reaching for homeopathic products to soothe teething aches, try giving your little one a frozen washcloth or teething ring to help numb the pain. If your child is cranky and is teething, it’s okay to talk to your doctor about what the proper dosage of infant acetaminophen and ibuprofen is for your child’s age and weight. Just remember that babies less than six months old should not take ibuprofen because it is processed through the kidneys, which are still developing at this young age.
Dr. McKenna says that the biggest lesson for parents is to reset expectations about what is and what is not teething. “To be honest, teething shouldn’t be that bad,” he says. “It may cause your child to be a little cranky or clingy, but if he has a fever of more than 100 degrees and is inconsolable even when you pick him up, it’s not teething and is probably time to see a doctor.”
-- By Holly C. Corbett