Teething tablets and gels: How do you know if they are safe?

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Red, puffy gums are a sure sign of teething. Even the calmest babies can become irritable. When your baby’s cries turn to screams or screeches, all you want is to provide some relief. Teething pain that keeps your baby from sleeping also means that you are probably running on fumes.

Homeopathic teething gels and tablets are one of the few teething-specific remedies on the shelf at the pharmacy. Hyland’s is a common brand that has been stocked at CVS Pharmacies across New York. Stop before using one these supposed remedies.

The Food and Drug Administration warned parents recently not to use these products. They may be related to the deaths of 10 babies and 400 reports of symptoms from seizures and difficulty breathing to lethargy and muscle weakness in babies and toddlers who took them.

Who reviews the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies?

There is no way to know if a homeopathic product on the shelf is safe, because the industry receives very little oversight. The FDA does not evaluate homeopathic medicines or have the power to order their recall. CVS has however removed the products from its stores.

This is not the first time that Hyland’s teething products have come under scrutiny. In 2010, the company recalled some of its teething products over concerns about inconsistent quantities of the active ingredient: belladonna. After a change of formula, sales resumed in 2011.

Over the past four years, the 400 plus adverse events appear similar to the 2010 belladonna toxicity issues.

Warnings on the label

Currently, the FDA only requires a homeopathic treatment to list possible uses on the labels. The products generally do not have strong warnings. But even if they did, it is not possible to warn away a defect.

As a parent, it is hard to stay up on all the recalls. What is safe for your baby and what could pose a danger? Homeopathic sounds like a milder alternative, but without safety reviews or strict controls you never know exactly what you are buying. Take caution and speak with your child’s pediatrician before using any teething treatment.

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