A popular teething remedy, Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets, has been recalled citing inconsistent levels of belladonna, a plant that can be toxic. While the company that manufactures these tablets, Standard Homeopathic Company, insists that there’s no scientific evidence suggesting the tablets are dangerous, the Food and Drug Administration disagrees.
The FDA issued a statement that says, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that its laboratory analysis found inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain homeopathic teething tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label. The agency is warning consumers that homeopathic teething tablets containing belladonna pose an unnecessary risk to infants and children and urges consumers not to use these products.”
Homeopathic medicine has long been a target of the scientific community (most notably because there’s no possible way it can work in the ways it’s purported to work). The science is simple: Proponents believe that “like cures like.” That means homeopaths believe that an agent that causes symptoms that mirror those of an illness in a healthy person will actually cure a person already experiencing the same symptoms. That might be true; after all, there are components of disease in vaccines, and those work.
The basic “law” of homeopathy aside, the science behind how it’s applied doesn’t work. In homeopathy, the mantra “less is more” is in full play. Homeopaths believe that the lower the concentration of the disease-curing agent, the more effective it is. To make a homeopathic “remedy,” an active ingredient is mixed with water and diluted anywhere from 6 to 400 times. The remedy is then labeled by the number of times it has been diluted, so if you’re using Hyland’s Teething Tablets, with a 12-time dilution of belladonna, you’ll get exactly 0.0000000000002 mg of belladonna in each pill.
Homeopathic sugar pills are infused with these diluted active ingredients—but the chances of a person ingesting even one molecule of the active ingredient is lower than one in 100,000,000 by taking one pill at the most common dilution, which is 30X. When a mixture has been diluted 400 times, you’d have to ingest about 10380 pills (and there aren’t even that many atoms in the entire universe) just to be sure you ingested one molecule of the active ingredient.
The FDA says that despite these extreme dilutions, the levels of belladonna in Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets are potentially dangerous.
Some natural parenting advocates disagree.
“As a mom of five, I like to make decisions based on facts, science, and common sense. The last thing I’m going to do is throw out something that works for my kids and my life (and quite frankly, millions of other parents since 1945) because of some off-the-cuff propaganda that’s got an agenda,” says mommy blogger Megan Heimer.
What Do You Think?
Why did the FDA recall Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets? The American Association of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend another drug, but critics of the recall say that the FDA is crazy and that they’re pushing an “agenda” (although they fall short of explaining what that agenda is).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this baby product recall. Did the FDA go too far because homeopathic remedies can’t possibly work, or were they right to yank a potentially dangerous product off store shelves? Share your own ideas on my Facebook page or on Twitter.