Parents across the country were recently shocked to learn that the Hyland's Teething Tablets they've trusted to provide "natural" relief for their teething babies may have caused 400 "adverse events" in children (e.g.,. Fever, lethargy, seizures, etc.) and the deaths of ten infants. While these claims are still under FDA investigation and have not yet been verified, the FDA recently issued a warning to parents to stop giving children the tablets until a full investigation could be conducted. So what's a mom to do? We spoke to Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC about what this recall means for families- and what you can do to make teething easier in its wake.
It is important to note that what many are calling a Hyland's "recall" is not, in fact, a recall at all. Hyland's products were never actually recalled, and tablets may still be available at your favorite store- but once they're gone, they're gone. While US-Based Hyland's stands by their products, they have opted to voluntarily stop selling the tablets in the United States, but continue selling their teething products in foreign markets. As a result, your local store may choose to keep the tablets on shelves and sell off their inventory- or, in the case of stores like Walgreens and CVS, they may voluntarily pull the tablets off shelves just to be safe.
It all started when the FDA launched an investigation into the adverse events and deaths of children who were consuming Hyland's tablets and gels. The incidents occurred over a six-year period. The tablets were recalled once before, in 2010. At that time, the FDA found inconsistent and dangerous levels of the ingredient Belladonna, which is classified as a herb. It is considered one of the most toxic plants in the eastern hemisphere. As such, it must be used very sparingly- and with great caution. At the time of the 2010 recall, the FDA found that some tablets had hardly any belladonna, while others had dangerously high levels. To correct this, Hyland's reformulated the tablets and added a childproof cap to their bottles, but it seems that this may not have been enough.
We asked Simpson what she recommends for parents of teething infants instead of using these tablets - and if parents should toss their supply of teething tablets. Says Dr. Simpson "Because there was not a recall, this is still a matter of personal preference right now. However, when in doubt, listen to the experts. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association recommend discontinuing use of these tablets." So what, if anything, can be done to soothe your child's gums during this painful time? According to Dr. Simpson, stick with the old standbys our parents used "Try frozen teething rings, frozen washcloths, frozen bananas, frozen bagels, pacifiers, or you can gently massage your child's gums with a clean finger." If those products simply aren't cutting it, Dr. Simpson recommends speaking with your family pediatrician or dentist to determine your child's correct acetaminophen dosage.