Teething products ‘could put infants’ health at risk’
The British Dental Association (BDA) has urged parents to be on alert, as new research has revealed that nine of the 14 teething products licensed for use in the UK contain sucrose, alcohol and/or lidocaine, all of which have potentially harmful side effects. The BDA also said there is little evidence that the products are actually effective in reducing teething pain.
A paper published in the British Dental Journal, examined all products currently licenced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The MHRA categorises teething powders as homeopathic or herbal products, whereas most teething gels, with the sole exception of Nelson’s Teetha Teething Gel, hold full product licences.
Two products containing sucrose (table sugar) leave newly erupted baby teeth susceptible to decay, particularly as they are applied directly and repeatedly to the teeth. Six contain alcohol. Consumption of relatively low levels through breast milk can be counter-productive, arousing rather than sedating infants, meaning an increased propensity for crying and poor sleeping. Moderate exposure has been related to impaired motor development.
All six teething gels licensed in the UK contained lidocaine, which also poses a risk of overdose at higher concentrations. In the United States, 22 serious adverse reactions, including deaths, have been associated with lidocaine 2 per cent solution. Although none of the UK products contain more than 1 per cent lidocaine, there could potentially be a risk of overdose from incorrect use.
The BDA has backed calls for “no nonsense” guidance to help parents navigate the risks, and guide them away from potentially harmful products, and for changes to licensing arrangements so harmful ingredients cannot make it into licensed products without clear evidence on their effectiveness.
Source: ‘Teething products may be harmful to health’, Nigel Monaghan, British Dental Journal, Vol 227, No 6, 27 September 2019