Teething gel puts NSW baby in hospital for months
A NSW Central Coast mother has shared her terrifying ordeal, after her young son suffered an adverse reaction to a popular teething gel.
Skye Elliott, from Toukley, had been giving one-year-old Zander Howe the over-the-counter gel for pain relief for about six months at the recommended dose, when he suddenly fell ill.
“I noticed Zander’s lips were starting to turn blue and I couldn’t get a response out of him,” she told 9News.
Suffering seizures and hypoglycaemia, Zander was taken to Wyong Hospital before being airlifted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
He was diagnosed with chronic salicylate poisoning, a rare but dangerous side-effect.
“I felt so guilty, I felt horrible because I was the one who had given it to him,” Ms Elliott said.
Choline salicylate is the active ingredient in some best-selling teething gels. An overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness and ringing in the ears.
“Severe salicylate poisoning affects the pH of the body and that can cause a number of significant complications including seizures, coma, kidney damage and even death,” Genevieve Adamo from the NSW Poisons Information Centre said.
“In 2020, there was about 280 calls regarding teething products and of those, 240 calls were relating to choline salicylate products.”
She says parents need to consider the risk and benefits before administering the medication.
“Teething gels are not recommended because there is little evidence to show they are significant in reducing pain, and there are risks associated with them.”
The Database of Adverse Event Notifications includes 15 adverse event reports for products which contain choline salicylate. There was one report which was received in 2020.
A spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) says teething gels which contain choline salicylate are required to display a warning on the product label.
Zander spent two months in hospital but now he is home with his family.
Ms Elliott wants other parents to know that they shouldn’t believe a product is safe, just because it’s widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
“Just make sure you do your research because it’s so scary,” she said. Bonjela Australia issued a statement.
“The health and safety of all Australians is our top priority. For over 40 years, Bonjela has been trusted by Australian families to manage their baby’s teething pain,” a spokesperson for Bonjela Australia said.
“Bonjela meets Australian guidelines and standards, including registration with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.”