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Mouth ulcer and teething gels not for under 16s, MHRA advises

Oral gels containing salicylate salts for the treatment of mouth ulcers, such as Bonjela, should not be used in children under the age of 16, the MHRA has advised.

The agency issued the precautionary alert due to a link between salicylate salts, which Bonjela and Bonjela Cool Mint contain, and increased risk of developing Reye's Syndrome. Salicylate salts have the same effect as aspirin, which is contra-indicated in under 16s.

In a statement the MHRA said, "Any risk from these oral gel products is theoretical. We are not aware of any confirmed cases, but when there are alternatives available, any risk is not worth taking."

The advice follows three suspected but not confirmed cases of Reye's Syndrome in children who had used choline salicylate containing products. In addition four cases of vomiting and diarrhoea were reported in children after using Bonjela products.

Sadia Khan, lead pharmacist for self care of the Royal Pharmacological Society of Great Britain, said, "There is also a worry some people might be using too much of these products and salicylate salts are being absorbed into the bloodstream in that way."

She said parents should not be alarmed by this recent advice as there are a number of similar products on the market which do not contain choline salicylates. Bonjela Teething Gel is not affected.

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