HISTORY OF MEDICINE

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1879 to 2009 Teething Medicine Poisons Babies

The following teething product has a had a long history of warnings. In a trial in 1879, a jury found that the death of a 1-year-old “had been caused by congestion of the brain caused by the administration of Monell’s Teething Cordial.” One hundred thirty years later, on July 29, 2009, a 22 day old baby was rushed to the ER of a NYC hospital for potassium bromide poisoning, caused by the same, very well known, teething product from the 1879s. Earlier this year, there was another case of infant poisoning, after using this same illegally sold product, from the Dominican Republic, which is banned in the US. Historically, potassium bromide was used as an anesthetic in surgery, but no longer. This Cordial is one of a number of folk remedies that immigrants use in their underground medical system. Enough so that doctors in largely immigrant neighborhoods have put together guides to the medicines for residents. Cordial De Monell – which contains potassium bromide, betula oil, oil of anise and a clear syrup base – retails for about $5 and is often used to treat teething and colic. The products are brought in by distributors who may not realize it is banned. It goes on for sale until someone gets sick and it is recognized as illegal by an agency. The baby was treated, last week, for the potassium bromide poisoning after parents took her to a hospital emergency room because of excessive sleepiness and lack of drinking. Doctors found that the parents had bought the cordial and had been adding the liquid to each of her meals over 12 days. She recovered after five days. Symptoms of potassium bromide ingestion may include sedation, trouble breathing and low blood pressure. The health department also noted that chronic ingestion of bromides over time by older children and adults may cause “bromism,” marked by behavioral changes that develop after two to four weeks, like irritability, headache, confusion, anorexia, slurred speech and lethargy. Source: The New York Times

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