Researcher Nigel Monaghan, from Public Health Wales, said there is little evidence that the products are effective in reducing teething pain. Picture: Flickr.com

London - Gels and powders designed to ease the pain of teething babies contain "potentially harmful ingredients", researchers say.

A study found that of 14 products examined, two contained sucrose (table sugar), six contained alcohol and six contained lidocaine, an anaesthetic used to numb tissue.

Researcher Nigel Monaghan, from Public Health Wales, said there is little evidence that the products are effective in reducing teething pain.

The British Dental Association (BDA) backed his view, and urged parents to be alert to the ingredients in the products.

The study comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced in December that teething products with lidocaine would no longer be sold in supermarkets and high street shops, and would only be found in pharmacies.

The regulator conducted a review that found products with lidocaine were linked with a "very small" risk of harm and there was little evidence they work. Instead, it said parents should massage the gums or use a teething ring. This can ease babies’ discomfort and distract them from pain.

The latest study, published in the British Dental Journal, looked at 14 products.

It concluded: "Despite a lack of evidence of effectiveness for teething products, of the 14 licensed products in the UK, nine contain one or more of sucrose, alcohol or lidocaine.

"There is an opportunity to develop new guidance to steer health professionals and the public away from these potentially harmful products."

The BDA said the products containing sugar increased the risk of tooth decay. Exposure to alcohol may lead to poor sleep, while lidocaine was a risk in high doses.

BDA chairman Mick Armstrong said: ‘Parents buying teething powders to save infants from distress won’t always realise they’re offering their kids sugars, alcohol or lidocaine. Buying a licensed product should offer confidence you’re making a safe choice.

"The reality is consumers are navigating a minefield of potentially harmful ingredients.

‘We need to see real change in the way these products are licensed and marketed, and clear guidance so parents understand the risks. If your little one is suffering then a teething ring kept cool in the fridge is all you need."

Daily Mail