FDA warns teething medicines unsafe, wants them off shelves

The Free Press WV

Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers.

The Food and Drug Administration said that various gels and creams containing the drug benzocaine can cause rare but deadly side effects in children, especially those 2 years and younger.

The agency has been warning about the products for a decade but said reports of illnesses and deaths have continued. Now, it wants teething products off the market, noting there is little evidence they actually work.

“We urge parents, caregivers and retailers who sell them to heed our warnings and not use over-the-counter products containing benzocaine for teething pain,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in a statement.

The FDA said it will take legal action against companies that don’t voluntarily remove their products for young children. Manufacturers are expected to comply as soon as possible.

Benzocaine is also used in popular over-the-counter products for toothaches and cold sores in adults, including Orajel and Anbesol and generic drugstore brands. Products for adults can remain on the market but the FDA wants companies to add new warnings.

Benzocaine can cause a rare blood condition linked to potentially deadly breathing problems. The pain-relieving ingredient can interfere with an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache and rapid heart rate.

Teething products with benzocaine include Baby Orajel. The packaging states: “Instant relief for teething pain.”

New Jersey-based manufacturer Church and Dwight Co. Inc. said Wednesday it would discontinue four Orajel teething brands, including Orajel Medicated Teething Swabs.

“We are not discontinuing other Orajel products, which represent the majority of our Orajel offering,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend teething creams because they usually wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes. Instead, the group recommends giving babies teething rings or simply massaging their gums to relieve pain.

The FDA issued warnings about the teething products in 2006, 2011 and 2014, but it did not call for their removal from the market. Officials reviewed 119 cases of the blood disorder linked to benzocaine between 2009 and 2017, including four deaths, according to the FDA.

COOKING ON DEADLINE: Chicken larb bursts with flavor

The Free Press WV

Larb is a Thai minced-meat dish that some regard as the unofficial national dish of Laos. It is bursting with the quintessential flavors of this part of the world, that amazing balance between hot and sour, salty and sweet.

For this version, I decided to use chicken, though you could also use beef, pork, duck or lamb. The meat is sauteed and coated with a heady mixture of shallots, lemongrass, fish sauce, hot sauce, lime juice and a bit of sugar. When all of those flavors come together, wonderful things happen.

And then when you wrap it in a lettuce leaf with a spoonful of tender rice and some fresh cilantro . well, let’s just say that “larb” becomes one of the prettiest food words around.

If you really like the pungent aroma and flavor of fish sauce, which is available online and in Asian markets, as well as many well-stocked supermarkets, then double the amount and skip the soy sauce.

You can assemble the dish yourself or let everyone make their own. Pile the meat into the lettuce leaves with plain white rice, jasmine or basmati, or brown if you lean that way. And don’t forget the scallions and cilantro.


Servings: 4

Start to finish: 30 minutes


2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

1 tablespoon water

Chicken Larb:

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound ground chicken

1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 small romaine lettuce leaves, or Boston or bibb lettuce

1 cup cooked warm rice

Fresh cilantro leaves and thinly sliced scallions to garnish

First, make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, Sriracha sauce and water. Set aside.

Then, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 3 minutes until just barely golden. Turn the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and lemongrass and saute for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the 2 teaspoons fish sauce and season with salt (lightly) and pepper.

Spoon the chicken mixture into the lettuce cups with some of the rice, and drizzle the dressing over it. Top with cilantro leaves and scallions.


Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories; 114 calories from fat; 13 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 98 mg cholesterol; 902 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 22 g protein.

Nurses Want Zuckerberg’s Name Off Hospital

The Free Press WV

How would you feel about being a patient at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital? For some patients, having the Facebook founder’s name plastered on the hospital is worrisome—and over the weekend, nurses at the hospital staged a protest to push for Zuck’s name to be removed, ABC 7 reports. They even covered over his name on the hospital’s sign with blue tape. After Facebook’s recent privacy scandals, “People are afraid,“ one nurse tells CBS San Francisco. “I’ve spoken with people who have said, ‘I’m afraid to tell my doctor anything, because I don’t know who is going to get that information.‘“ San Francisco General was renamed after Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla donated $75 million in 2015 to help the facility build its trauma center.

“We don’t think it makes sense for San Francisco General Hospital to be publicly associated with an organization that doesn’t care about confidentiality,“ says another nurse. “Confidentiality is so crucial to providing quality health care.“ Their union is looking to make the issue a ballot measure so voters can decide. But the city’s mayor says there’s no connection between Facebook privacy issues and the hospital’s name, noting that the city needs to support and thank “individuals that contribute to ... the safety of our residents.“ A former San Francisco supervisor, however, says he regrets backing the renaming of the hospital, but “understood that if I were to vote against it, we would lose $75 million to open the hospital up.“

‘Yanny or Laurel’ Question Is Dividing the Internet

It’s the audio equivalent of the white or blue dress that perplexed the internet in 2015: Is the voice in this clip saying “Yanny” or “Laurel”? Many people—including the musician Yanni—insist it says Yanny, while others, including this writer, clearly hear Laurel. Others claim to have heard one, then the other, while some say they heard both words simultaneously, the New York Times reports. The auditory illusion, which went viral on Tuesday, was first posted by Instagram user Cloe Feldman, and a poll on her page had about 51% people in favor of Yanny, though polls elsewhere have Laurel narrowly in the lead, reports the Atlantic.

As with the contentious dress, many experts have been coming forward with their opinions on the Laurel versus Yanny debate. Professor David Alais at the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology tells the Guardian that it’s an example of a “perceptually ambiguous stimulus.“ “They can be seen in two ways, and often the mind flips back and forth between the two interpretations,“ he says. “This happens because the brain can’t decide on a definitive interpretation.“ Other experts noted that the acoustic patterns in the clip seemed to be halfway between the two words, and people were more likely to hear a different word when the pitch, bass, and volume were adjusted.

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