Homeopathic Teething Product Dangers
February 26, 2018
In September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers about the risks certain homeopathic teething tablets and gels manufactured by Hyland’s and sold by CVS and possibly other store and online retailers. The danger is that these teething drugs contain belladonna, a substance that has medical uses but, at higher doses, can be toxic.
Back in 2010 the FDA issued a warning about these products. The problem was inconsistent amounts of belladonna in the teething preparations. Signs of belladonna poisoning include seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation. If any occur, the child needs to be seen as soon as possible in an emergency room.
There are three important take-home lessons from this recall. First, the FDA doesn’t evaluate supplements or homeopathic preparations before they are released for use. The FDA can issue a recall only after the product has been used and receives reports of problems. The FDA is looking into changing this, but it will take legislative action.
Second, true homeopathic preparations are so diluted that the chances of them containing anything other than water are extremely slim. One of basic tenets of homeopathy is “like cures like,” meaning that a substance which causes specific symptoms has the power to treat them. The second basic tenet of homeopathy is the law of infinitesimals, which states that the more the substance is diluted the more potent the treatment is. Neither of these tenets make any sense when looked at scientifically. But that’s a topic for another article.
The problem was poor manufacturing quality control leading to inconsistent belladonna levels. A child exposed to belladonna may suffer significant side effects. In the last six years, 10 children may have died from belladonna-containing homeopathic teething products.
The third lesson is that not every problem needs medications. Teething is one. Nonmedicinal treatments that help with the symptoms of teething include chewing on a cold cloth or teething toy or massaging of the gums.
FDA Press Releases, 10/23/10 and 09/30/16