Handling a teething toddler is stressful for any parent, but Danielle Kapetanovic was just trying to help her daughter when things went terribly wrong.
The mom from Chantilly, Virginia says she almost lost her 15-month-old daughter, Chloe, after applying a common over-the-counter medicine on her sore gums.
And now she's warning other parents about a risk from these products that most of us overlook.
"It was like something had stopped inside of her"
Last month, Kapetanovic says she put a "pea size" dose of Orajel teething gel on her daughter's gums.
The specific product was named Nighttime Orajel Instant Relief.
Just seconds after it was applied, Kapetanovic says her daughter went completely limp.
“It was like something had stopped inside of her; like she was not there,” she told People.
“Even though her eyes were open and locked in a dead stare, she was completely limp. She was turning blue."
The shocked mother rushed to perform CPR, while her husband called 911.
Within 30 seconds, Chloe was awake and alert again. But Kapetanovic says the emergency was "the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
EMTs arrived to examine Chloe, but she was fine. Still, her parents stayed up all night with her just to be safe.
The next day, Kapetanovic started investigating the Orajel she had used.
It turns out many teething gels contain an ingredient called benzocaine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against giving the ingredient to children under two years old, because it may cause methemoglobinemia.
Symptoms of the condition include pale skin, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat. In some cases it can be fatal.
Now, Kapetanovic is asking tough questions about the medicine and its packaging.
Orajel's packaging does warn that parents should consult a doctor before administering the gel to toddlers under two years old.
But Kapetanovic says the product's marketing doesn't match the mouse print on the box.
"I found it in the baby aisle at my local grocery store, right next to other baby products like baby food and baby wash," she told Good Housekeeping.
"So I naturally assumed it was intended for babies."
She even points out that there was a baby on the packaging.
While doctors still don't know exactly what caused Chloe's reaction, Kapetanovic is warning other parents away from the popular teething gel.
"Yes, common sense dictates that what happened to my daughter will not happen to every baby, but it could happen to any baby," she wrote on Facebook.
For parents who are wary of teething gels, there are plenty of other options to soothe teething pain.
- Freezable toys and teething rings are available in a variety of styles.
- So are silicone teething necklaces, which are designed to be worn out in public for the mother's convenience.
- Even skin-to-skin contact has been shown to reduce teething pain by promoting the release of relaxing hormones.
Have you ever had any problems with over-the-counter teething medicine?