If you've got a teething baby or toddler, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration definitively says you shouldn't be giving them homeopathic teething tablets to soothe their sore gums. In fact, if you have the products in the house, you should just throw them in the trash.
Researchers are now saying that popular homeopathic remedies for teething pain actually can contain high levels of a toxic substance which could cause serious side effects, such as seizures. Officials first issued this warning in October, then performed lab tests for confirmation, and now the results are back—and they revealed what the FDA already suspected. Teething tablets are dangerous for your baby's health.
The FDA's testing found "inconsistent amounts" of an ingredient called belladonna in homeopathic teething tablets. The amount, at times, far exceeded what was written on the label. Belladonna is also known as deadly nightshade. Aside from seizures, other symptoms of belladonna poisoning include vomiting, skin flushing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, constipation, blurred vision, confusion.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement that belladonna poses an unnecessary risk for children under the age of two and recommends that parents check with their doctors for safer alternatives.
The FDA does not evaluate or approve homeopathic products because they are not proven to be effective, and many parents and doctors are wary of their potential benefits.
Hyland's, one popular maker of teething tablets, announced in October 2016 that they were discontinuing their homeopathic teething relief products. Some retailers decided at that time to also remove the products from shelves based on the FDA warning.
FDA officials contacted Hyland’s teething product manufacturer, Standard Homeopathic Company, about its findings, but says the company refused to issue a recall. The product is still for sale in some stores, while others have removed it from their shelves.
Hyland’s spokeswoman Mary Bourneman told CNN that the FDA never asked the company to recall the product, nor did they refuse to issue a recall. According to the FDA, another company that makes similar homeopathic products, Raritan Pharmaceuticals, issued a recall for three products containing belladonna as an active ingredient.
This isn’t the first time the FDA has warned the public about the possible dangers of homeopathic teething products. They issued a warning about teething tablets in October of 2016, and back in 2010, the agency issued a statement saying if parents witness seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, among other unusual symptoms after using these products, they should seek immediate medical care. They're still investigating the deaths of 10 babies that may be linked to homeopathic teething tablet use.
The FDA also has said benzocaine (contained in products such as Anbesol, Orajel and Orabase) should not be used on children less than 2 years of age either for teething. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the safest way to alleviate teething pain is by gently massaging your baby's gums or giving them a cool (but not cold) teething ring or clean, wet washcloth to chew on.