Throw Out the Homeopathic Teething Meds, Warns FDA -- They Might Be Toxic


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Listening to a teething baby cry makes most parents feel heartbroken and helpless. And, as plenty of moms and dads know, you're willing to try almost anything to alleviate that discomfort. But the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers about the use of homeopathic teething tablets, which were found to contain higher amounts of a toxic ingredient than the products' labels suggest.

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The ingredient is called belladonna, and don't let the name -- which translates to "beautiful lady" -- fool you. The leaves and roots of this plant have been used to make medicine, but unfortunately, they can also be poisonous.

More from CafeMom: 16 Natural Ways to Treat Teething Pain in Babies

With that in mind, you certainly wouldn't want to give it to your baby, right? Well, the FDA announced that its lab analysis showed the amount of the toxic substance contained in certain homeopathic teething tablets far exceeded what was stated on their labels.

Scary, right? You think you're helping your children but you might actually be harming them. 

After its analysis, the FDA contacted the Standard Homeopathic Company in Los Angeles, which manufactures Hyland's homeopathic teething products (Hyland's is one of the brands in question), regarding a recall. But, as of now, the company has not agreed to conduct a recall.

Needless to say, the FDA is urging parents and caregivers to stop using the products marketed by Hyland's immediately and toss any they might have on hand.

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In a press release, Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, explained the potential danger. "The body's response to belladonna in children under 2 years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk," she explained. "We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives."

When you hear the word "homeopathic," it sounds so gentle and harmless, right? But I can recall asking my pediatrician about these tablets when my son was teething after a friend recommended them. The doctor advised against them, stating that the FDA doesn't typically regulate homeopathic remedies so she couldn't vouch for their safety. That kind of caught me off guard, but in the press release, the FDA clearly states: "Homeopathic teething products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness."

Further, in September of 2016, the FDA warned against using these products after it received several reports of adverse reactions. 

So, what can parents and caregivers do to soothe a teething tot? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the following cold items, which act as an anesthetic for the gums:

  • Pacifiers
  • Spoons
  • Clean wet washcloths
  • Frozen bagels or bananas 
  • Refrigerated teething rings

The AAP also advises against using topical over-the-counter teething gels, as they can "carry serious risks, including local reactions, seizures with overdose, and methemoglobinemia (a blood disorder). Benzocaine containing teething gels should not be used in infants or children under 2 years of age."

Thankfully, teething doesn't last forever (though it does seem painful for everyone involved). When attempting to soothe a baby cutting teeth, it seems to make sense to err on the side of safety.

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