Mother gives baby too much Bonjela for teething pain and the child nearly dies

A mum says her baby ‘nearly died’ she gave her too much of a household gel commonly used for ulcer pains.

Jessica Vermunt claims her seven-month daughter stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital “literally minutes away from dying” after giving her Bonjela.

The mum told NZ Herald she was using the gel last week to help seven-month-old Athena cope with teething. 

She said her baby was “screaming” with pain, so over a few days, mum Jessica continued to apply more of it.

Jessica claimed she was using the recommended doctor’s dosage, but acknowledged she was using it more often than normal.

In the UK ulcer gel Bonjela, which contains an ingredient called salicylate, is recommended for over-16s although the company also sells a teething gel product aimed at tots.

Writing from her daughter’s hospital bedside, Jessica shared her story in a Facebook parenting group as a warning for other parents.

She wrote that after about four days, Athena began to experience breathing difficulties- although Jessica at first thought it was just a respiratory virus.

But after four hours they took the child to the doctor’s and she was rushed to Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

“I am currently in Starship Hospital with my seven-month-old baby who was literally minutes from dying after having too much Bonjela,” Jessica warned in the parenting group on Facebook . 

“The active ingredient in Bonjela will turn your babies blood ACIDIC and cause complete renal failure.”

She told the Herald her baby had been diagnosed with salicylate overdose.

Salicylate is the active ingredient in Bonjela, which a UK health watchdog recommends for over-16s only.

Jessica wrote: “I’m aware that she had more than normal but the point remains that this has the potential to kill your child and there is no real information or warnings about the severity of it.

“The doctor was aware of the amount of Bonjela she was having and didn’t think it was of concern at all.”

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) in 2009 issued precautionary advice saying Bonjela, popularly used to reliever mouth ulcers, was “unsafe” for under-16s.

It raised fears the product could cause rare Reye’s Syndrome, a serious brain and liver condition, in children, usually associated with a previous viral infection like the flu or chickenpox.

The advice referred to Bonjela and all other oral pain relief gels containing salicylate salts.

It goes on to say the ingredient had the same effect on the body as aspirin, which is already not recommended as safe for children aged under 16.

The NHS says Bonjela gel remains a safe treatment for over-16s. 

It notes the company that makes Bonjela offers a ‘Bonjela Teething Gel’ for children two months and over that does not contain salicylate.

The NHS recommends alternatives for children such as a chilled teething ring, dental anaesthetics containing local and mild antiseptics, salt-water mouthwashes, a paracetamol-based painkiller, or Bonjela Teething Gel.

In New Zealand national medicines adviser Medsafe cautions against using more than the recommended dose of products like Bonjela.