Anyone with friends who have kids of a certain age has probably seen dozens of pictures of the young children wearing what looks like some kind of jewelry all over Instagram, Facebook, and group text chains. Amber teething necklaces have grown in popularity over the past few years as more and more people push the narrative that they are a safe and effective alternative treatment to help ease the effects of teething in young children.
But what exactly is an amber teething necklace, what does it do, and is it safe? Hopefully we can shed some light on the latest social media influence parent phenomenon.
There's an endless list of claims of supposed benefits of allowing children to wear baltic amber teething necklaces and bracelets, even though agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics have come out saying that they aren't affective and pose risks for young children.
Even with a lack of peer-reviewed clinical information, producers and proponents of these teething necklaces hold their ground and say that baltic amber does the following.
One of the major claims from amber teething necklace producers is that amber naturally contains succinic acid, which works as an anti-inflammatory agent.
When amber rests on the skin and is warmed by body heat, it releases the succinic acid, which then enters the bloodstream. By relieving inflammation on the gums around the incoming teeth, the amber necklaces relieve pain and discomfort of teething.
And then there's the claim that amber teething necklaces can help boost a child's immune system. The baltic amber, while reducing pain and inflammation, supposedly also boosts the immune system thanks to the succinic acid found in the baltic amber.
Whether it's because of a lack of clinical research or the fact that they pose a choking risk for young children, there's a lot of information out there making a good point as to why you should avoid amber teething necklaces.
The FDA released a warning for parents in 2018 after the agency received multiple reports of serious injuries and deaths of infants and small children from choking and strangulation caused by amber teething necklaces and bracelets.
One of those cases involved an 18-month-old child who was "strangled to death by his amber teething necklace during a nap." Citing the case and others like it, the FDA came to the conclusion that these products should be avoided if not properly supervised by the child's parents or guardians.
Besides the whole potential choking risk aspect of the amber teething necklaces, there isn't really any verified information supporting all of the supposed claims. Sure, there have been studies into the effects of succinic acid on the human body, but there is no evidence that it actually works or if it's any more affective than a placebo or standard rock.
If you want to avoid the amber teething necklaces but want to have a natural way of combating your child's teething aches and pains, there are plenty of other options out there that are more effective and safer than tiny rocks on necklaces.
There's always the old fashioned method of rubbing your finger (after it's been cleaned, of course) along your child's gums, focusing on the areas where the new teeth are pushing through.
Another way of dealing with the pain is achieved by keeping the gums cool. You can use everything from rubbing an ice cube along the child's gums, giving them a cold or frozen teething ring, or let them eat cold or partially frozen fruits and vegetables. If the natural route is your preferred method, seek out rings made from natural materials.
Whatever decision you make in regards to a teething child, please note that it's probably a good idea to consult with a doctor if there are any doubts.