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"It's naive at best and deadly at worst": The hidden dangers of amber teething necklaces.

Teething can be a testing time for any parent.

You’re pushed to the point where you’re willing to try absolutely anything to make your baby feel better.

But despite the warnings about the dangers of amber teething necklaces, desperate parents are still gravitating towards them.

If teething is part of your current reality, get the Baby Bubble in your ears. Post continues after podcast.

In 2016, Danielle Morin’s toddler Deacon was strangled in his sleep while wearing one of these necklaces.

She is now trying to sue Etsy where she bought the necklace from, claiming the seller should’ve made sure it had a ‘safety clasp’ that released if a child got stuck. Instead she was sold a screw-on clasp.

But Dr Jennifer James, an expert in child and infant health at RMIT, thinks even that is incredibly problematic.

“When babies are teething and miserable we want to help them, but doing something like this that’s unscientific and unproven, it’s naive at best and deadly at worst,” she tells Mamamia.

“I wouldn’t recommend putting anything around a young child’s neck, unless maybe if that child is supervised 100 per cent of the time, which obviously you can’t do.”

What do amber teething necklaces claim to do?

The necklaces are made from amber beads which are a fossilised tree resin. They come in yellow, white, beige or brown.

Suppliers claim that when worn close to the skin, succinic acid will be released from the amber beads to relieve the symptoms of teething.

Some suppliers have also made claims it helps conditions like eczema and asthma.

They’re drug free and natural, but there is absolutely no medical evidence to suggest that the oil actually relieves pain, Dr James confirms.

You can buy them in chemists, online and in health food shops, and their casual inclusion in safe, normal environments puts parents under the false pretence they don’t present any dangers.

After all, they aren’t illegal.

What are the risks of amber teething necklaces?

Regardless of whether you think these necklaces do work in helping your child’s teething troubles, the main concern is that they are incredibly dangerous.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Red Nose have both issued numerous warnings about the jewellery, most recently in 2015.

“Marketing of a necklace as in any way suitable for a child to play with could lead to the foreseeable misuse of the product, which may result in choking or strangulation, said the ACCC.

3 month old beautiful, cute baby with amber necklace
Not only are they dangerous, there's no proof amber necklaces help with teething. Image: Getty.
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The consumer watchdog tested various products, and found some teething necklaces would fail the mandatory requirements for teethers.

In 2018, the American Food and Drug Administration warned against their use, following reports of "death and serious injuries in both infants and children."

"To me it's probably also about from a parental perspective, an aesthetic thing. It looks pretty. But there's absolutely no evidence that there is any therapeutic evidence to these sorts of things," Dr James tells Mamamia.

"Little children do risky things, they fall over, they get things caught. This family in the US is a sad example of why you would never do that.

"It's like swimming pools, you fence it off so a small child can't get in. This is no different. It's about safety. You put them into appropriate car seats. You don't let them near a stove. This is just another precaution.  It's a parental responsibility issue, really."

Red Nose Australia's Chief Midwife is of a similar opinion.

"We don't recommend placing anything around the neck of a sleeping baby, as this could tighten during sleep and become a strangulation hazard," Jane Wiggle tells Mamamia.

"There is also the possibility the beads or the string could break and individual beads could end up in the baby's mouth. We do still see parents and carers using these products."

What are the alternatives to amber teething necklaces?

Experts advise to stick to the medically approved tried-and-tested tricks and tips, such as:

Medicine: Nurofen and Panadol when your baby is really having a tough time.

Cold items: Letting them suck on wet washcloths, frozen banana, chilled applesauce or frozen breast milk to numb the pain.

Teethers: There are so many chew toys on the market for this very purpose, and they don't involve putting something around your child's neck.

Massage: A gentle rubdown of the sore spots on your baby's gum with your finger or knuckle to provide relief.

"Sadly there's not much else that works. It's something they all go through, and there's not much you can do until that tooth comes through - apart from relieve the symptoms," Dr James says.

How did you help your baby get through the teething phase? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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