Mom's Warning About Harmful Side Effects Of Popular Teething Gel Goes Viral

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Danielle Kapetanovic

Mom warns that the popular teething gel should only be given to kids ages two years and above

UPDATE – Orajel has since removed benzocaine from all teething products for children. Their teething gels are also free of: artificial colors, menthol, sugar, parabens, belladonna, sodium lauryl sulfate, gluten, and dairy.

If you’ve ever walked down the pharmacy aisle of a store, you know there are about a thousand different types of pain relievers you can give your children, each with their own novel-sized pamphlet of guidelines and side effects. One mom is warning other parents about a frightening incident that happened to her daughter after going against the warnings on the package.

Virginia mom Danielle Kapetanovic shared the terrifying story of her 15-month-old daughter, Chloe, having trouble breathing after being given teething gel. On Feb. 26, Kapetanovic says she put less than a “pea size” amount of Orajel’s nighttime teething gel on the child’s gums. Immediately, her daughter became unresponsive and stopped breathing.

“Chloe immediately turned red, started kicking, got one or two screams in, and 10-15 seconds after the Orajel touched her gums she became unresponsive,” Kapetanovic wrote on her Facebook page. “Her eyes locked in a dead stare, she became limp and stopped breathing. She turned blue.”

The mom of two said she grabbed Chloe and tried hitting her back to wake her up, then began CPR while her husband called 911. “Thankfully she woke up and started screaming and crying after maybe 15-20 seconds in total, which felt like an eternity,” Kapetanovic said. “The ambulance arrived and EMT’s checked her out and determined she was okay.”

Thankfully, there was a happy ending for Chloe but her mom is now trying to warn others about the possible side effects of the medication and also about what she considers confusing advertising by the company. “A portion of the use instructions says it’s intended for 2 years of age and older, however the manufacturer has placed a picture of a baby on the front and placed the product in the baby aisle of stores or in baby sections of online retailers,” she explained. “This product is incredibly misleading (look at the age of the child on the box) and should be properly labeled with a large warning or simply removed from the shelves and not advertised for babies.”

Image via Danielle Kapetanovic

Kate Montaner Photography, L

What’s more, some online retailers like Target recommend this same product for babies “four months and up.”

Yes, Chloe was 15 months and the packaging instructions say for children over two, but I’ll admit I’ve given my kids medication outside the intended age recommendations in the past, as have many parents. You do your best to read the labels and consider all the possible side effects, but most of us would never dream a teething gel could cause a child to stop breathing.

Kapetanovic told Scary Mommy that since she posted about the incident, many parents have reached out to thank her for sharing or to tell similar accounts about the same thing happening to their children. “Many purchased it to use on their baby and had no idea about the risks,” she said.

Also, most teething occurs before age two. According to WebMD, it is normal for teething to start at any time between three and 12 months of age, a year before they would technically even be able to use teething gel.

“Unfortunately I did not know this in advance, but there are many other parents out there who have experienced the exact same occurrence with their own children when using Baby Orajel. I found online posts dating back to 2008 from parents with literally the same experience – their baby became unresponsive in seconds, went limp, turned blue, became responsive again after 15 seconds or so – it was like someone wrote my same experience,” she wrote. “What’s more, I learned the FDA warns against giving babies Benzocaine – the active ingredient in Baby Orajel.”

Kapetanovic said she doesn’t like to put detailed information about her children on social media but felt it was her responsibility to warn others about the possible risks. “I felt it was important to draw attention to this so that parents know the risks associated with using Baby Orjael Nighttime on their children under two.”

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