Amber teething necklaces for babies: Do they work? Are they safe?
Many babies experience discomfort with teething, leaving parents searching for remedies to help ease the pain.
A homeopathic treatment you may have noticed is babies wearing Baltic amber teething beads, usually on a necklace or bracelet. The labels may claim that succinic acid is released from the beads when warmed by a baby’s body, and that this acid has analgesic (pain relieving) properties.
While some parents swear by them, claims of their effectiveness are inconsistent, anecdotal, and scientifically unproven. Is succinic acid released at body temperature? If so, does it actually have an analgesic effect? If it does, how would we monitor the dosage – how much exposure would you need to be effective without risking too much? Is it even safe to expose your baby to this substance at all? These questions remain unanswered.
Another consideration comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises against infants wearing any jewelry. Necklaces increase the risk of strangulation and if broken, the beads can become a choking hazard. In fact, suffocation/airway obstruction is the leading cause of fatal injury for infants in Washington state (in 2011, there were 70 suffocation/airway obstruction deaths for children younger than age 1, and 72 non-fatal hospitalizations).
As a mom, I know how hard it is to see (and hear) your baby in pain from teething. While it is tempting to try anything that might help, amber teething necklaces have the potential to do more harm than good. Even if the beads did help with teething, which is debatable, it is not worth the risk of losing your child.
Instead, talk to your baby’s doctor about safer ways to alleviate teething pain. A cold wet washcloth, rubber teething ring, acetaminophen, or gently rubbing their gums can help.
About The Author
Erin Summa is a Health Promotion Coordinator with the Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety.
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