health

It says it will help your baby get through teething. But it could kill.

Have you used these?

You see them on sale everywhere you go.

You see them prettily decorating the necks of babies everywhere, from celebrities to the mum across the road. You admire them and smile at how sweet each child looks adorned in the tiny beads.

Amber teething necklaces are sold in the millions around the world. But it seems too many of us buys them, admiring their beauty but do not heed the warnings that they are dangerous, and that in fact if used incorrectly, they could kill your baby.

Ellie was found strangling herself on the necklace.

An Australian mother  is the latest to issue a stark reminder to parents after she found her daughter face down in her cot choking after becoming entangled in her necklace.

Ashleigh Ferguson has posted a warning on Facebook which has gone viral about the moment she found her 15-month old daughter, Ellie.

Ashleigh from Wodonga said Ellie had managed to get her arm up under the amber teething necklace, twisting it into a figure eight between her arm and neck.

“How she got her arm through to that point I will never know.”

“It was wrapped around her arm and neck with a twist in between and my stomach just dropped with a sickening feeling that something like this could even happen.”

“But if the pressure on her neck had been in a slightly different point, it’s unimaginable.”

Her post has attracted more than 60,000 shares since she first issued the warning.

She told News Limited, “Mums think they are safe, yes there are warnings on them not to use on a sleeping child but most mums think it will break (before strangling) and I know many mums are using them 24/7,” she said.

It is difficult to find a toddler these days who isn’t wearing an amber necklace.

Gisele Bündchen and her daughter Vivian Lake.

The purported science behind them is said to be ancient with claims they have healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

They are even said to relieve eczema, speed up wound healing and stave off ear and throat inflammation.

All for a price tag ranging from $25 to $60.

But what many parents miss is the very large choking warnings that come with the decorative necklaces.

The fact is these necklaces have the potential to kill your child.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Association issued a warning about the necklaces in 2011 saying they were a choking hazard.

While sellers of the necklaces claim that they are safe because the string is knotted between each individual bead Dr. Isabelle Claudet, head of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Toulouse, France told The NY Times that this is irrelevant because even one bead is enough to choke a baby.

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Desperate parents will try anything - I get that. I have been that walking-dead-tired to the bone parent. I have been so fed up from the crying and lack of sleep that I would believe anything. I have watched my children sob and claw their mouths with pain.

We have all heard the anecdotal stories and claims about these necklaces, and many of us might have witnessed the placebo effect.

But it is just that – a placebo. The fact is there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that amber teething necklaces work.

None whatsoever.

In fact in 2013, the Therapeutic Goods Administration ordered one company making claims about the necklaces to remove an ad claiming their necklaces were a "natural analgesic" and found them in breach of the advertising standards code.

Dr James Best, a GP from Sydney, told the ABC at the time that it is biologically implausible that the necklaces could have any benefits at all.

Ashleigh and her family (Source: Facebook)

"I think that these teething necklaces are really part of a much bigger picture about a whole industry that's spun around encouraging parental anxiety,” he said.

“Teething at the end of the day is a minor problem. It just causes a bit of pain and discomfit as the teeth come through the gum line and teething gets blamed on everything."

“The fact that parents are being coerced into buying a product for something that's a fairly minor issue really is all part of a bigger parental anxiety issue that's happening a lot lately."

So here are two reasons not to use amber teething necklaces.

1. They could choke your child.

2. They don’t work.

If you need anymore reasons read on.

Do they work? Well the short answer is no.

  • Pain medicine expert from Sydney University, Professor Phillip Siddal: “I think I can safely say any claims about pain relief are groundless. Apart from the fact of how much succinic acid actually gets absorbed, there’s not one research study. I think that says it all,” he said.
  • Professor Allan Blackman, from the University of Auckland assessed the necklaces and concluded they were useless. “Amber does contain succinic acid but it is not very volatile so you would have to heat it to at least 200C to get it out of the amber and into your baby’s blood stream which is not going to happen when baby’s temperature is 36.9C. In layman’s terms it’s extraordinarily unlikely – it’s snake oil."
  • France and Switzerland have banned sale of the necklaces in pharmacies.
  • And aside from the fact they don’t work, these very pretty pieces of decorative jewellery are dangerous.For an official warning about amber teething necklaces visit the ACCC here.

Have you used a teething necklace on your child before? Were you aware of the warnings?

Want more? Try:

Warning on baby slings.

The most dangerous toy on every child's wishlist.

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Tags: babies , health , kids , news-2 , parenting-2
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