The US Food and Drug Administration has recently released a new safety alert that warns on the potential dangers associated with teething necklaces and bracelets. Reports of one death and several other injuries have caused the FDA to caution parents, caregivers, and health care practitioners about potential strangulation, choking, and even infection risk from amber, wood, marble, and silicone necklaces.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, comments that teething necklaces and jewelry products are becoming more and more popular and this has resulted in increased concern about the risks associated with these products. Thus, he says, they want to increase awareness among parents that “teething jewelry puts children, including those with special needs, at risk of serious injury and death.”
In addition, the FDA is also advising caregiver and parents not to use creams, ointments, sprays, lozenges, and benzocaine gels designed for treating mouth and gum pain in relation to teething. Instead, the FDA suggests alternatives like the traditional teething ring.
This report might be crucial because despite the growing popularity in this particular type of teething product, their safety has not been confirmed. In fact, Helen DeVos Chidlren’s Hospital injury prevention specialist Jennifer Hoekstra attests, “There is no scientific information that teething necklaces are effective and safe.” She goes on to advise that they are, in fact, more dangerous than we think.
She also points to a warning on many of these products which states, “The American Association of Pediatrics does not recommend any teething jewelry.”
In addition, though, the FDA advises that some amber teething necklaces contain a substance known as succinic acid. This chemical can be very dangerous if released into an infant’s bloodstream. Unfortunately, many people believe that succinic acid can act as a topical analgesic but there is no evidence to support it.
It should also be noted that succinic acid only seeps out from Baltic amber after exposure to extreme heat (approximately 200 degrees Celsius) which a child’s skin (or gums, in this case) would never be exposed to. Combining this information, then, it is easy to see how the FDA reached the argument that teething tools that contain succinic acid likely pose more risk than benefit.