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Numbing Medications Can Harm Teething Babies, FDA Warns

Products containing lidocaine or benzocaine have been linked to serious illness, death

FRIDAY, June 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Viscous lidocaine and benzocaine-containing teething products should not be used for teething children, except under the advice and supervision of a health care professional, according to a new warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA noted that in 2014 it received 22 reports of serious incidents, including deaths, tied to use of viscous lidocaine in babies and toddlers under three and a half years of age. The FDA also said that over-the-counter benzocaine products should not be used for children younger than age 2. These products include Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase.

Benzocaine products for mouth and gum pain can cause the rare but serious and potentially fatal condition, methemoglobinemia. Children under age 2 are at particular risk, the FDA said. According to the agency, symptoms of overdosing include confusion, jitteriness, shaking, seizures, falling asleep too easily, vision problems, and vomiting.

The FDA now requires a warning on the label of all prescription oral viscous lidocaine cautioning against its use in babies and small children for teething pain.

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