A New Zealand mum has warned parents to be very careful about using teething gel in the wake of her baby’s hospitalisation due to the effects of using too much of the popular preparation.
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7-month-old baby hospitalised
Mum Jessica Vermunt says she used Bonjela on her baby girl Athena’s gums when she was struggling with teething pain. What Jessica didn’t realise was that using too much some numbing oral gels and liquid can have devastating consequences, because of an ingredient called choline salicylate.
Choline salicylate is not recommended for usage on children under the age of 16, which is confusing when it’s one of the key ingredients in many baby teething preparations – such as Bonjela Teething Gel which is available over the counter and in supermarkets with “from four months old” printed on the box.
In the UK this product has been reformulated by Bonjela, without the potentially toxic choline salicylate. But in Australia and New Zealand it’s still in the gel – and in a number of other companies’ products for teething babies.
Teething products containing choline salicylate locally include:
Bonjela Teething Gel
Pharmacy Care Teething Gel
Curash Babycare Teething Gel
Potentially toxic ingredient
Taking to a Facebook parenting page earlier this week, Jessica detailed her scary experience.
“I am currently in Starship Hospital with my 7-month-old baby who was literally minutes from dying after having too much Bonjela,” Jessica posted explains that “the active ingredient in Bonjela” can make children very unwell if they are administered too much of the product.
Baby Athena was sedated and placed on a breathing machine while the doctors did blood infusions and transfusions, Stuff NZ reports.
Warnings are inadequate
Jessica explained that she had not used the gel according to instructions, but stressed that there should be warnings on the product about the dangers of overuse.
“I’m aware that she had more than normal,” the distressed mum wrote, “but the point remains that this has the potential to kill your child and there is no real information or warnings about the severity of it.”
Jessica said that even her GP was unaware that these sort of gels can make children very sick if not used correctly.
“I had been at the doctors four hours before she was rushed to hospital not breathing or responding to anything,” Jess recalls. “The doctor was aware of the amount of bonjela she was having and didn’t think it was of concern at all.”
She urged parents to be very careful about using teething gels in the wake of her family’s experience.
“I’m begging you, if you do use Bonjela for your baby please please please the smallest amount as little as possible,” Jess warned.
Follow the directions on the packaging
A spokesperson for Bonjela told Stuff NZ they were attempting to contact the mum and investigate this worrying incident.
“All Bonjela products in Australia and New Zealand were thoroughly reviewed and approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, the regulatory body for safety and efficacy,” she said.
“As with all medicines, parents should use oral teething and mouth ulcer gels only according to the directions on the packaging and should speak to a healthcare professional if they have any concerns,” the Bonjela rep said.