Mum Warns After Baby Almost Dies From Popular Teething Gel Poisoning

A New Zealand mum has cautioned others after her baby daughter almost died from teething gel poisoning after using popular Bonjela teething gel.

Jessica Vermunt posted on social media that her daughter had been hospitalised after giving her Bonjela, having no idea it was potentially harmful.

Teething gel poisoning

Jessica’s baby Athena was flown to Auckland’s Starship Hospital unresponsive and in respiratory distress. Jessica has described to New Zealand media that Athena was “minutes away from death” on arrival.

At the hospital, baby Athena was sedated and put onto a breathing machine while the doctors did blood infusions and transfusions, Vermunt said. Following that Athena was diagnosed with salicylate overdose. Salicylate is the active ingredient in Bonjela.

Bonjela teething gel

Regular teething pain relief goes wrong 

Like in hundreds of households across Australia and New Zealand, if a baby is teething, mum reaches for over-the-counter Bonjela to relieve baby’s suffering. Jessica believed the product was helping her daughter and admits to using it more than is advised.

“She kept screaming at us. Over a period of a few days I slowly gave her a bit more.”

Jessica’s family doctor was aware that she was using Bonjela and had not identified or cautioned that the over-advised amounts being used could be potentially lethal.

“I’m aware that she had more than normal but the point remains that this (product) has the potential to kill your child and there is no real information or warnings about the severity of it.  I had been at the doctor’s 4 hours before she was rushed to hospital not breathing or responding to anything, the Dr was aware of the amount of Bonjela she was having and didn’t think it was of concern at all [sic].”

While baby Athena is now back to her normal self, it’s not yet known if the child will have long-term complications due to the overdose.

Mum wants the product modified 

Bonjela teething gel has already been modified in the UK and Ireland so that it does not contain salicylate acid. The United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) further advised against giving children under 16 Bonjela teething gel at all.

New Zealand’s equivalent of the MHRA, Medsafe, told Newshub it had decided Bonjela was still safe for use on children in 2009 and has not looked at the product again since. Mum Jessica believes this is not satisfactory and that the product available in New Zealand must be made safer.

Jessica writes “We are in the process of getting the story out to media and medical councils so changes can be made here in NZ like they were in the UK.”

baby teething on finger
Source: Bigstock

The choice is yours but use all products wisely 

At Mum Central, we believe every parent should independently decide if a product is safe or right for their child.

At present Bonjela is approved for use and considered to be safe in Australia.  It is important to note that mum Jessica did confirm she used more than the recommended dosage and this was the reason her daughter Athena became so ill.

Please use medicines safely, follow the dosage information and make informed decisions for the health of your own family.

Bonjela responds to the claims 

According to a New Zealand website, Bonjela is aware of the incident and is trying to contact the mother to understand what exactly had happened, a spokeswoman said. They have otherwise commented,

“All Bonjela products in Australia and New Zealand are thoroughly reviewed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the regulatory body for safety and efficacy. As with all medicines, parents should use oral teething and mouth ulcer gels only according to the directions on the packaging and should speak to a healthcare professional if they have any concerns. Meanwhile, we are sending our best wishes to the infant for a quick recovery.”

More on teething 

If you’re looking for further information on teething why not check out 11 Super Baby Toys for Teething Sore Gums. Not sure if your baby is teething? Here’s a great teething chart and 9 Ways to Spot the Signs of Teething.

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Mother-of-two. Tea lover. Lego Ninja. Expert in carpet Play Dough extraction. Victoria Louis is a 30-something writer based in Sydney, NSW. A former marketing manager who loves to laugh there’s no topic she won’t explore. Victoria is full of opinion, big on kindness and believes the day is always better with a dash of lipstick.

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