Among the latest dubious health care claims parents need to watch out for: The supposed pain-relief properties of amber teething necklaces.
The trendy claim is that the ancient resin found in the Baltic region releases succinic acid, which some say can act as a natural Tylenol of sorts, and be absorbed by the baby’s skin.
“From a scientific standpoint there is absolutely no evidence that it helps with teething and if anything it's a potential harm,” said Dr. Rachael Fournet, a pediatrician with Novant Health Pediatrics Blakeney.
Putting a necklace on a young child “can lead to strangulation hazard and there has been a toddler that died during a nap time wearing their amber teething beads,” she said.
It can also be a choking hazard if the beads break off, Fournet said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also warned parents that amber teething necklaces and other teething jewelry pose safety risks for children.
And, she notes, for the succinic acid to be released from amber it needs to be heated to nearly 400 degrees. “And good luck proving it's from the Baltic Sea and not China,” she said.
Fournet also advised parents to be cautious with overuse of over-the-counter products like Orajel, and to avoid homeopath teething biscuits, cited as a concern by the FDA. She also advises against using toys with fluid inside. “Those were popular because you could freeze them and then it would stay kind of like a cold gel,” she said. “But there have been some research studies showing that those can crack, the babies can ingest liquid or there can be bacteria that grows inside.”
Fournet advises parents to give their child a weight-based dose of Motrin or Tylenol or use a silicone teething toy. One old-school option: “Give them a cold, wet washcloth that's been in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and let them gnaw on that. Or wash your hands and let the baby gnaw on your knuckle. They love that.”
And finally: “No one has ever died from teething,” Fournet said. “But several babies have died from the remedies to help with teething. Remember that less is more and this too shall pass.”