FDA warns about risks of teething necklaces after toddler dies

Health Alert
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WASHINGTON (CBS News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting parents to the risks of jewelry used to relieve teething pain after a toddler died. 

The FDA said the incident involved an 18-month-old child who was strangled by his amber teething necklace during a nap.

The agency said it had also received a report of a 7-month-old baby who choked on the beads of a wooden teething bracelet and was taken to the hospital.

“We know that teething necklaces and jewelry products have become increasingly popular among parents and caregivers who want to provide relief for children’s teething pain and sensory stimulation for children with special needs. We’re concerned about the risks we’ve observed with these products and want parents to be aware that teething jewelry puts children, including those with special needs, at risk of serious injury and death,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said in a statement.

These types of teething products are sold by a large number of manufacturers in the U.S. and can come in various forms, including necklaces, bracelets or anklets.

While they are most commonly used to relieve infants’ teething pain, the jewelry may also be used by people with special needs, including autism or ADHD, to provide sensory stimulation or to prevent chewing on clothes or body parts.

The risks involved with teething jewelry include choking, strangulation, injury to the mouth and infection, the FDA said.

Gottlieb advised following the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on alternative ways for treating teething pain, “such as rubbing inflamed gums with a clean finger or using a teething ring made of firm rubber.”

The FDA also advises against using teething creams, benzocaine gels, sprays, ointments, and lozenges for mouth and gum pain. These anesthetics can cause a life-threatening condition in small children called methemoglobinemia, in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood is reduced. 

The FDA says it will continue to monitor the risks associated with teething jewelry and “will communicate further as warranted.”

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