Dr. Mellick writes:
Last week I was seeing a 7 month old infant referred for evaluation in the pediatric emergency department. The patient’s mother, a nurse, expressed concern about her baby and mentioned that her other child had died at 4 months from methemoglobinemia caused by a benzocaine containing teething medication. This occurred in a rural setting and due to lack of timely resources, the child succumbed from the methemoglobinemia. Her child’s death, she related, contributed significantly to the FDA’s 2018 ruling forbidding the use of benzocaine in teething products. Interestingly, in review the FDA letter on this topic, they mention the death of a 4 month old infant. In 2011 I filmed our treatment of another infant who had developed methemoglobinemia one to two hours after being treated with a benzocaine containing teething gel. It seemed fitting to update that video as well as spread the news about the current FDA position on the use of benzocaine in teething products for children under 2 years of age.