Amber bead teething necklaces, are they safe and should I purchase one for my child to wear while they are teething?

Many parents have chosen to use an amber bead teething necklace, bracelet or anklet as a natural form of pain relief for their teething child.

Teething can be a tough time for some children with symptoms being so painful that parents search for the most therapeutic option on the market and will try numerous products available to help relieve their distressed child’s discomfort.

A quick search online shows there are various manufacturers and suppliers selling amber bead necklaces for around $30.00.

 

Background

Teething is a process that all children experience. Most children get their first tooth at around 6 months of age and have a complete set of 20 teeth by the time they are about 2 ½ 1.

Gums can be sensitive and quite painful when cutting teeth which may cause, restlessness, crying, irritability, disturbed sleep, drooling and even feeding difficulties.

In recent years amber bead teething necklaces have become popular as a therapeutic natural alternative to using medications for relieve of teething symptoms.

Necklaces, bracelets or anklets come in varying colors such as yellow, dark brown, light brown and red.

The jewelry is made of amber which the Oxford Dictionary describes as a hard-translucent fossilized resin originating from extinct coniferous trees of the tertiary period.

When the beads are worn, and they warm against the skin it is believed that a chemical called succinic acid or amber acid is released. Succinic acid is said to have many benefits on the human body from anti-inflammatory benefits and as an antioxidant.

Some parents believe this has helped relieve their teething child’s symptoms. 

 

Hazard

Whether or not the amber bead necklaces have analgesic properties there are far safer options on the market to relieve teething symptoms that do not pose a choking or strangulation hazard.

 

Choking – If the beads are swallowed there is a possibility that they can block a child’s airway.

The ACCC has tested several of these products, they indicated that these products could present a choking hazard to children under 3 years of age due to items possibly breaking into small parts.

 

Strangulation – There is a possibility of a child being strangled if the necklace becomes caught or hooked on items such as play equipment, or furniture. Or if a child manages to put their arm through the necklace it may not break causing the child to be strangled by the jewelry.

Several stories about amber teething necklaces report this product to be dangerous and describe the product breaking or a child having placed their arm through the necklace while it is around the neck causing the child to almost become strangled.

 

Alternatives

There are many products available on the market to help relieve teething symptoms from drops to gels and even wipes. We always tried to use the most natural option for pain relief for our children. To help our children with teething symptoms we have used a silicone teether that is FDA approved, nontoxic BPA, PVC, cadmium and lead free. And when teething symptoms are very painful we used Panadol and nurofen as a last resort. Other parents I have spoken to have used frozen vegies, cold water filled teething rings or simply a very cold face washer. Always ensure you don’t introduce any hazards such as a choking or suffocation hazard to the child. And always seek expert medical advice before using any medication.

 

Going Forward

The ACCC is liaising with the Therapeutic Goods Administration regarding the therapeutic claims made for the teething necklaces and bracelets.

 

Injury Prevention

Safe Start Australia says to parents thinking of buying an amber bead necklace for their child to wear is to “weigh up the risk”. Any jewelry worn by a child could become a hazard for the reasons stated previously.

A consumer protection notice was issued in 2011 by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer David Bradbury and it contained the following advice to consumers

Consumers using this product are advised to:

  • Always supervise the infant when wearing the necklace or bracelet
  • Remove the necklace or bracelet when the infant is unattended, even if it is for a short period of time
  • Remove the necklace or bracelet while the infant sleeps day or night
  • Not allow the infant to mouth or chew the necklace or bracelet
  • Consider using alternate forms of pain relief
  • Seek medical advice if you have concerns about your child’s health and well being

Any jewelry worn by an infant or young child can be dangerous. If parents, choose to let their children wear jewelry the risk must be assessed and always supervise your children when they wear jewelry of any kind.

As with any product do your research to make an informed decision. Assess the risk and decide if it outweighs the need to use such an item, always use products as per the manufacturers specifications and always supervise your children when using these products.

Please seek advice from your health care professional and always use medication and products as recommended by the manufacturer.

Written by Nicolle Sharkey Founder of Safe Start Australia.

I write:

  • From Research
  • From Experience
  • From the Heart

Where to now?

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References

  1. Teething Facts and Fiction. Lisa Markman. Pediatr. Rev. 2009;30; e59-e64 DOI:10.1542/pir.30-8-e59