Homeopathic teething gel still a big risk to babies

Homeopathic teething products have been investigated over links to 10 baby deaths in America. This concern got closer to home when it was revealed that the same products were being sold in Australia, including the pharmacy in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made warnings that ‘Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets contained inconsistent amounts of the “toxic” substance belladonna’, and they claimed that this posed a risk to children.

Belladonna, also know as deadly nightshade, has long been used in herbal medicines and is known to cause hallucinations.

The FDA further urged parents to dispose of the tablets and seek medical care immediately if children experienced symptoms, including seizures, difficulty breathing or agitation.

In October last year, the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) began it’s own investigations and urgent laboratory testing.

A member of Australian Skeptics, has been investigating the sale of Hyland’s teething products in Australia, said he was concerned TGA testing was inadequate.

On 1 February, 2017, the TGA released the following statement: “The TGA has completed its testing of samples of teething gels as discussed below and has not identified any quality issues.

Levels of atropine, the primary alkaloid present in belladonna, were found to be well below the cut off for this type of product of 300 parts per billion.

Based on these results, no further regulatory action will be taken.”

However, Peter Hogan, a member of Australian Skeptics, has been investigating the sale of Hyland’s teething products in Australia, said he was concerned TGA testing was inadequate.

“I’m concerned parents may be gambling with their babies’ health,” he said, and questioned whether more testing was required.

The Age newspaper quoted a TGA spokeswoman as saying: “Based on further information from [the] FDA we are considering whether testing of more samples will be useful.”

She went on to say: “Consumers are encouraged to be cautious in purchasing homoeopathic teething products and to talk to their health professional before using them for infants or children.”

Hyland’s have discontinued distribution of it’s teething products in the US but numerous pharmacies in Australia still have stock, including Terry White Chemists and Priceline.

Clearly there is lack of conclusive evidence either way, but the recommendation must be to avoid these products until all tests have been carried out.