It is hard for parents to see their children sick or in pain. Our gut instinct is to hold them and help in any way we can, and this is particularly true when our littles teethe. We eagerly invest in products to ease their discomfort, hoping we’ll find something to make their tiny mouths feel better. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to avoid teething jewelry, as these products can result in injuries or death.
According to a press release issued earlier this week, teething necklaces, bracelets and anklets can present choking and/or strangulation risks. They can also cause mouth injuries or infections. And while their effectiveness has been questioned for some time, the FDA warning came about after an 18-month-old was strangled to death by his teething necklace.
A 7-month-old was also hospitalized after choking on the beads of a wooden teething bracelet, the FDA reported.
“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 said in the release.
The FDA also recommends caregivers avoid using teething creams, benzocaine gels, sprays, ointments and solutions, as benzocaine and other local anesthetics can cause methemoglobinemia, a serious condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood is reduced.
Instead, Gottlieb suggests consumers “consider following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations of alternative ways for treating teething pain, such as rubbing inflamed gums with a clean finger or using a teething ring made of firm rubber.” Because while teething jewelry may be helpful, it isn’t worth the risk.