Some tablets and gels aimed at helping to soothe babies’ teething pains may be dangerous for infants and toddlers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in a statement Sept. 30.
The FDA is investigating reports of seizures in infants and children who were given homeopathic teething products, which may contain “natural” compounds but are not regulated as drugs by the FDA.
In addition, the FDA said in the statement that “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” after using homeopathic teething tablets and gels. [7 Baby Myths Debunked]
Instead of using such products, doctors recommend giving a baby a firm object to chew on. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Do not use frozen teething toys because they can cause more discomfort by injuring a baby’s mouth, the AAP advises.
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine practice based on the idea that “like cures like.” In homeopathy, extremely minute concentrations of toxic substances are used under the idea that they could cure the symptoms that they would cause at higher doses.
The FDA said in the statement that the agency is not aware of any proven health benefit of using homeopathic teething tablets and gels.
In 2010, the FDA issued a safety alert about a homeopathic teething tablet that contained belladonna. Belladonna — also called deadly nightshade — is a poisonous plant that contains a chemical called atropine. At high levels, atropine can be deadly. In homeopathy, it is used to treat redness and inflammation.
At the time, the FDA found that the teething tablets contained inconsistent amounts of belladonna. The company that made the tablets, Hyland, subsequently recalled the product.
“Teething can be managed without prescription or over-the-counter remedies,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the FDA statement.