Your infant is in pain from sore gums, and you want to do something to ease that pain, so maybe you consider a homeopathic treatment, with its heavily diluted active ingredients. What you may not know is that this seemingly innocuous teething tablet might contain unsafe levels of potentially dangerous belladonna.
The Food and Drug Administration confirmed today that it had found varying and elevated levels of belladonna, a plant that contains potentially deadly toxins, in teething tablets sold under the Hyland’s brand.
Homeopathic treatments generally contain ingredients that are so heavily diluted that there may not be any detectable traces in the final product. The end result is usually a treatment that is no more helpful than a placebo.
However, if you’re going to provide a dangerous toxin directly into the mouths of young children, you need to make sure that not only is the level not dangerous, but that it’s consistent.
According to the FDA, belladonna levels in teething tablets have been neither.
“The body’s response to belladonna in children under two years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk,” says Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. ”We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives.”
The agency has compiled numerous incidents of children reacting negatively to Hyland’s teething products. These include everything from complaints about red, bumpy rashes, to children suddenly appearing listless, to multiple reports of seizures.
In these incident reports, several parents point out that they had no idea that Hyland’s products had been recalled in 2010 over potentially dangerous levels of belladonna.
However, as the FDA notes in today’s annoucements, Hyland’s has thus far refused to issue a recall related to these latest concerns. The company did decide in Oct. 2016 to stop selling the teething products in the U.S. but stores may still have older inventory in stock, and parents may have teething tablets sitting around waiting to be used.
The FDA says that these products “pose an unnecessary risk to infants and children” and is urging consumers to not use them.
Hyland’s is not the sole focus of this FDA report. As a result of an earlier warning to consumers, CVS announced in Sept. 2016 that it was pulling all homeopathic teething products from store shelves. Another company, Raritan Pharmaceuticals, subsequently issued a recall on its teething products.
Update: Because Hyland’s has yet to recall teething tablets from stores, parents and caregivers might have them in their homes, our colleagues at Consumers Union note the importance of not using these products that have no proven benefit.
“In light of the serious potential risks to infants from belladonna, Consumers Union urges retailers, pharmacy chains and online web merchants to immediately stop selling the Hyland’s teething products, until and unless the unresolved safety questions raised by the FDA are fully addressed by the products’ manufacturer,” reads a statement from CU. “We further urge retailers to act swiftly to remove the Hyland’s teething products from store shelves and other sales channels immediately.”
Consumers Union says it intends to contact supermarkets and drugstores that carry these products to make sure they are aware of the FDA’s findings.