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Amber necklaces and teething babies

October 30, 2012
Let’s check the science: Amber teething necklaces – should babies wear them?

My grandchildren are all past the age when teething is a big problem, but I still shudder when I see small children wearing amber teething necklaces. Surely any parent can see that harnessing a child with such a bauble is inviting a serious strangling or choking incident. You would have to be very desperate, and very certain of the effectiveness to take such a risk, I would think. Is the risk justified? Do these necklaces work?


This article assumes you are happy to accept science as the best way of discovering the truth about the natural world. If that’s not the case for you, why not have a look at Trusting the science first?

Teething necklace

The promoters’ arguments – science or red flags?

As I would have expected, some of the claims range from the magical:

•Allows body to heal itself •Radiates soothing energy and absorbs negative energy, thus needs cleansing often •Calms nerves, stimulates intellect •Aligns ethereal and physical energies, cleanses the environment •Success in treating disorders of the kidney and bladder

to the ridiculous:

Amber teething beads work on a simple theory of mild magnetism, which has been found to have the potential to reduce mild pain, such as accompanies teething.

However, many promoters do suggest a plausible mechanism. They claim that amber contains an analgesic substance called succinic acid which is released by the beads in response to the warmth of the child’s body and absorbed through the skin (here, here and here).

Do I see any red flags? Yes, lots of them. I see appeals to ancient wisdom and esoteric energy (here), magical thinking (here), use of anecdotal evidence (here), empty edicts (such as boosting the immune system, here), and pseudoscientific jargon (here).

Being skeptical

Initially I was suspicious that the promotion of these necklaces would rely heavily on nonsense about the magical properties of crystals. But most of the sites I found based their claims on the succinic acid mechanism, so it deserves to be checked. Does amber contain succinic acid? Is it released by warmth and absorbed into the body? If so, does it have any physiological effects? Is there any scientific evidence that these beads work? My feeling is that there must be very solid evidence for their effectiveness to justify the risks of choking and strangulation.

The scientific evidence

In my search for evidence, I got off to a great start when I found this posting by Scepticon. It gave me lots of references and analysed the situation very impressively. But I couldn’t take Scepticon’s word as authority, of course. I needed to find primary sources myself.

This is what I managed to discover:

  • Baltic amber (the type usually recommended for teething) does contain succinic acid (here). Other types may not.
  • I could find no evidence that Baltic amber releases succinic acid at body temperatures. Succinic acid melts at 187 °C but it’s moderately soluble in water. So if it indeed seeps out of the amber, it couldn’t be in molten form. Body temperature (about 37 °C) would be insufficient to melt it. There is a possibility it could be dissolved by sweat.
  • Succinic acid is found naturally in our bodies and in many foods, including beer and wine (here). In some countries, it’s allowed as a food additive (number 363). Generally, it’s considered safe (here), although, just as there are no studies on its analgesic effects (see next point), there are none investigating its safety in humans. Interestingly, in bulk it’s regarded as a skin and respiratory irritant, with a risk of serious eye damage (MSDS here). The oral rat LD50 is 2.26 g/kg.
  • There is some history of succinic acid being used externally to treat pain. I could find no scientific evidence that it works. Scepticon had the same problem – no studies, no RCTs, nothing. There is a single animal study (here) showing that succinic acid may help in reducing anxiety in mice, but nothing on analgesic effects.
  • So, putting it all together, even in the unlikely event that succinic acid is released from the amber, there is no evidence that it is absorbed or has any effect. And even if it does, how sensible is it to allow a completely unregulated dose of a chemical to flow into a child’s body over a long period?
  • Apparently, the necklaces are made to break easily so that strangulation risk is reduced. But surely this would increase the risk of choking on the beads. Australian government agencies have warned against allowing children to wear them while unsupervised or sleeping (here, here).

DIY evidence

There are plenty of blogs and websites describing personal experiences of parents who have tried amber teething necklaces and have been convinced they are effective (here and here); others have the opposite opinion (here). Needless to say, such anecdotal evidence is worthless, and the examples described in the preceding links are likely to be cases of regression to the mean. In other words, in the natural course of things the teething pain eventually gets better. The only way of showing that these necklaces really work would be to conduct proper randomised controlled trials.

Conclusion

This is an easy call. The complete lack of any good evidence that amber necklaces relieve teething pain means that there is absolutely no benefit to offset the risk of wearing them. Remember that in risk assessment, the size of the risk depends on two factors – the likelihood of the event happening, and the severity of the consequences. In this case, one consequence could be death by choking, and in my book, that rules them out completely. I’m disgusted that they are sold in some pharmacies (here).

The Australian Dental Association has suggestions for much less risky methods of reducing teething pain (here). Why would anyone use a ‘treatment’ with such large risks and no supporting evidence?

Update 2013/03/21: At The Conversation (here), Ken Harvey explains that pharmacists are ignoring their own standards by stocking these and other products that are not backed by credible evidence.

Update 2013/08/21: The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia has ordered one supplier of amber necklaces to remove claims from its website. The claims, that amber teething necklaces are a “natural analgesic” that provide “natural relief from teething problems” were judged by the TGA to be “misleading, unsubstantiated and in breach of the advertising standards code.” The ABC has the story here.

Update 2013/11/09: Clay Jones has a great article on teething at Science-Based Medicine. Basically, the gist is that teething doesn’t really produce any serious symptoms at all, and that all the ‘treatments’ used to soothe infants through teething episodes are unnecessary.

Update 2014/04/12: In another Science-Based Medicine post, pediatrician John Snyder exposes more of the nonsense behind amber necklaces, as well as advising that it’s neither necessary nor advisable to use drugs of any kind to treat teething in infants.


Illustration modified from a photo by David Green on flickr.

This is one of ScienceOrNot’s Let’s check the science series.
183 Comments
  1. Autismum permalink

    The advertising of these wretched things is in the UK is restricted to “availability only.” No claims are allowed to be made for their mode of action or effectiveness any longer http://autismum.com/2012/10/29/amber-teething-necklaces/

    • That’s at least better than the situation here, Autismum. Thanks for the link. Your post is very informative.

      • Update 01/01/13: Autismum has had further success in her worthy struggle against amber teething necklaces in the UK. See this post on Skeptoid.

  2. Very informative, the breakaway thing is crap though. The beads are knotted on so tight they cannot come apart. Yes, the clasp can separate, but each bead is strung and knotted before the next one. I have one for my daughter, not for the teething crap, but because I thought it was cute. The necklace is too short to get tangled on anything to strangle her, yet seems to have stretched in the 2 years we’ve had it, as it now can fit my neck and hangs lower on her neck than it once did.

    • Yes, Nicole, I think the choking risk (as a result of the necklace breaking) is much more significant than the strangulation risk.

  3. Mark permalink

    November 11, 2012
    Just like all of you, I thought it was all a crock of s**t but my wife wanted one so two days ago I went and got the cheapest one I could find. (happy wife, happy life) Before getting it, my son was drooling constantly from his teething, and never slept for more than a couple of hours. We had to use a cold soother for him to suck on to ease the pain. Within 24 hours of putting the necklace on him, the drooling stopped and he slept through the night for the first time in weeks. I don’t really care what the science says, or the skeptics think. It worked for us. I realize this is anecdotal evidence that the writer thinks is useless. Again, I don’t care. It works. There is no way it was just a coincidence his teething just happened to stop and get better on the day we put the necklace on him. He’s 6 months old and only his two front, lower teeth have started to come out. His teething is far from over.

    As for the strangulation part, I was a US Marine for 4 years and I can tell you that it is very hard to kill a human being by strangulation with a rope or string. There has to be a tremendous amount of force exerted, and meanwhile the person flays and struggles and, yes, screams. There is no way a baby can exert the amount of force required to strangle themselves and not cause enough noise from their struggling to bring the parents running. But again to keep my wife happy, we put the necklace around his ankle and put a sock over top to keep it in place. It’s never been around his neck, and yet, I can say that it worked. Anyone who tells me that I’m crazy or desperate can suck s**t through a straw. Last night my baby, my wife, and I had one of the best sleeps we’ve had in a month. This just works despite what the science says.

    • Mark,
      I understand how you feel about your experience, but I must say your reasoning sounds to me like a classical case of rooster syndrome – you put a necklace on your son, his symptoms disappeared some time afterwards, therefore this was due to the necklace. Despite your conviction that it’s unlikely, my guess is that his symptoms would have disappeared anyway. That’s what happens with situations like this – after a while they get better. It’s regression to the mean. That’s one reason why anecdotal evidence is unreliable. For every case where the treatment seems to deliver a ‘cure’, there’s a case where the condition disappears with a different treatment or without any treatment at all (and I can offer my own three kids as anecdotal evidence there). The only way you can say for certain that “it works” is to do a randomised controlled trial.
      Like you, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about strangulation. I think the much larger risk is that of choking from inhaling loose beads that have broken free from the necklace.

      • Anita permalink

        I’m sorry, but I agree with Mark. I was skeptical about the necklace, but was willing to try anything. Within 24 hours we had our happy little girl back. No more drooling or screaming. You can call it a case of rooster Syndrome, I don’t care. I would rather my happy baby than a screaming one. Plus, we take it off to bathe her as we don’t want to risk the string wearing thin from being wet, and forgot to put it back on. The next day we had an unsettled baby again. Got home, put the necklace back on and again, by late afternoon, happy baby. Baby had 2 teeth at the time the necklace was put on and was cutting 2 more. She now has 8 teeth and is cutting molars, so far no dramas. So science or not, it works for us, and if it means I’m not pumping her full of panadol and teething drugs then I am happy too. I have read your article and taken it on board, as one solution doesn’t necessarily work for everybody.

        • Anita, there is no realistic explanation for how teething necklaces may appear to work apart from the placebo effect. I suspect that in this case it operates on both the infant and the parents. My point is that these necklaces are a very risky way of bringing on the placebo effect, and it it were up to me, I’d find a safer substitute.

          • Christine permalink

            I don’t get how the placebo effect would work on the baby…

          • You might like to read the comment by Molls, below, Christine. The placebo effect is not caused by the thing that’s often called “the placebo” (in this case the necklace), but by the conditions in the subject’s environment that go along with its application.

        • Amy permalink

          Anita, if the necklaces work as they are supposed to, then while you aren’t pumping her full of teething drugs, you are instead allowing a chemical that is not proven safe for humans, that has not been proven to have an analgesic effect, flow, unchecked and unmeasured, into your child. Why is that better than the odd dose of Panadol?

          • Anita permalink

            Plenty of things that ‘science’ has proven to be safe for humans, has turned out not to be safe. Just because ‘science’ hasn’t proven it to be safe doesn’t mean they aren’t. I’m not waiting for science to prove it one way or another. It works for us. In saying that, my doctor, my childrens doctor, my paediatrician, and my ENT specialist don’t have a problem with my baby wearing it, so thats all that matters, to me, for now.
            Its not just the odd dose of panadol either, every 4-6 hours for too long can have bad affects on a baby. Teething doesn’t just go for a couple of hours every so often. For some it can go for days and weeks.

          • ‘Science’ in scare quotes?! Does that mean you have an issue with science, Anita?

          • Christine permalink

            Graham –

            I am sure that by adding the ‘scare quotes’ to science, Anita is referring to the science that is funded by companies that are only interested in ‘proving’ that their product is safe so they can make the big bucks. Yes, this does happen.

          • Perhaps, Christine. But I don’t think that kind of science would ever be regarded by the scientific community as ‘proven’, even allowing for the fact that science never ‘proves’ anything.

        • Same with my DS. 2 hours after wearing the Baltic amber necklace I’ve got a happy baby.

        • Sonia permalink

          For what it is worth, when our first child started teething around 3 mths old, and was dribbling profusely we put on the beads too and within 2-3 days it stopped completely and a rash under her chin disappeared. If we forgot to put them on after her bath, she would have an unsettled night and in the morning we’d see why… coinsidence it may be, but when we tried it several times, every time it helped… our second child who is now 3 mths doesnt seem to be a fan of them as every time we put them on her, she seems grizzly so we’re not using them at this stage – we will be interested to see how she manages with teething and if it makes any difference. Enjoy your evenings :)

          • Thanks for the observations, Sonia. Have you used or will you consider using other methods of relief?

    • Shane permalink

      Mark, your knowledge of strangulation when it comes to adults may or may not be accurate but when it comes to babies I fear you are completely wrong. A baby only has get string caught on something and their own body weight will be more than enough for them to quickly and quietly pass away. It is why is many countries there are laws about fixing curtain cords to walls so that a child is less likely to be able to loop it around his neck. When it comes to strangulation, suffocation and drowning a child can die quickly and quietly. I was surprised find that the number of children that drown in a dog’s water bowl is statistically significant for example.
      Excuse me while I suck s**t through a straw.

      • xxWesxx permalink

        His “knowledge” of strangulation IS wrong. I too have training as a serving paratrooper in Canada. If someone is screaming while you are choking them, it means you’re doing it wrong. Screaming requires breathing…and a person who is breathing is not screaming. Furthermore, it requires very little effort to choke a person, which is why the use of choke holds is actually legally classified as lethal force. A proper choke can be applied to an adult with nothing more than the twist of a wrist. I’m not sure where his “marine” experience in choking came from, but it certainly isn’t from experience.

    • Keltic permalink

      I’m with Shane….I’ve done emergency nursing for years…..and a toddler and young child can very easily strangle themselves on a curtain cord….anatomy and physiological tolerance of juniors is completely different to adults. Parents, please don’t add your child to the mortality stats!!

      • linkette permalink

        After (admittedly) a quick google search, I have not found a single death due to amber teething necklace strangulation. Could not find mortality stats around them, nor any blog posts or news stories. Correct me and post something related to that if I missed something.

    • David permalink

      It’s actually quite easy to strangle someone Mark. Also, I don’t know many Marines that were taught how difficult it is to strangle babies, but I’d imagine it’d be a hell of a lot easier than an adult (which is relatively easy). A rapid blood choke on an adult who can defend themselves takes a certain amount of force but can take as little as 3 seconds before lights out. Unlike adults, babies have almost no anatomical ability to protect themselves, their muscles are undeveloped. If babies’ O2 and blood supply to their brain is limited by a necklace it will still kill them. The brain can survive for about 4 minutes without nutrients. Unfortunately, babies will die much sooner if what is strangling them continues to cut off blood flow, probably less than 1 minute would be their point of no return. It takes 4 lbs of pressure to occlude the jugular vein, which is the sitting duck. That vein drains the head of blood. If no blood is being drained, no blood is replenishing the brain. (The whole network of arteries/veins backs up). Also, if the baby is sleeping, the muscles like the Sternocleidomastoid and the Omohyoid that flex and stabilize the head and neck are not being used. This makes it even easier to strangle the baby with a something like a necklace, as those muscles provide a degree of protection for the carotid artery and jugular vein on each side of the head, and the trachea. Anyone who puts any kind of necklace around there child’s neck during sleep is taking a risk of strangulation and should understand that to do so is complete negligence for your child. This is coming from a Special Forces Green Beret with 8 years military experience.

    • Dee permalink

      I agree. My granddaughter stopped drooling also and seems to feel better. Her teething is far from over, so she will be wearing her necklace for a while. As for the dangers, you are not supposed to let a child sleep in it and babies and toddlers should never be out of eyesight of their caretakers.

    • Oona deLoche permalink

      Same experience with our son. I couldn’t agree more!!!

    • dmdezigns permalink

      Here’s the thing with teething. It comes and goes in spurts. Your child can be drooling and in pain for weeks, then all of a sudden stop. Then a couple of weeks later, start again. Or maybe months later. Mine teethed on and off for 7 months and finally got her first tooth through the gum at 11 months old. Sometimes she drools, sometimes not. Do I wish that there was a way to prevent the pain? yeah, but you are confusing correlation with causation. Just because 2 things happen at the same time doesn’t mean one caused the other.

      • Melissa B permalink

        Yes the pain does come and go in spurts, but how do you explain the pain ending when the necklaces are on and returning when they are off? I guess that is the “evidence”. Think of it as a home-based experiment and by the sounds of it, there is over-whelming evidence that it works. Why don’t you donate some of your money so a government experiment can be done? Oh, but who would “donate” their baby as a test subject? Get real.

        • Ally permalink

          Well actually Melissa B you are essentially “donating” your baby as a test subject. Because you are using your something on your baby which has no scientifically proven effect or no known proven benefits. At least scientific trials are subject to guidelines and rules which in general aim to protect the subjects (obviously as with all trials, especially drugs, there may be some adverse side effects), but you will be well informed of those possible side effects if you choose to undergo the human trial phase of any scientific investigation or trial. You are putting these beads on your child in the hope it helps, with no actual evidence that it might, nor with any idea if your child may actually have a reaction to the succinic acid which (might) be released and absorbed through the skin. Sure at the end of the day you are entitled to your choice, but just remember, you are bagging people who also choose to use things such as Panadol which ARE tested and side effects are known.. as well Panadol etc have been on the market for decades.. so surely any long term effects would be well known by now.

    • crystal permalink

      Terrific!!!! I’ve begun to really consider these as I hear they are good for over all pain as well. Modern science doesn’t know everything and surely do not want you to know of natural fixes.

    • xxWesxx permalink

      I’m not sure where you learned about choke holds in the marines, but it certainly isn’t from experience. I too have experience in hand-to-hand combat as a serving paratrooper in Canada, and we actually use these techniques on each other in spars. If someone is screaming while you are choking them, then you’re doing it wrong. Furthermore, all it takes to apply simple chokes is the twist of a wrist, or the flexing of your arm in a choke hold. The little force that is required to crush the larynx is why the use of choke holds is legally classified as lethal force. Your appeal to authority fallacy is matched only by your post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. Everything you have stated defies documented fact.

  4. Amber therapy gives nutritional therapy that helps babies . Its good to have such remedies and amber jewellery

    • This is the sort of statement I’d expect from someone selling the stuff, Darius. Just pseudoscientific jargon and bald, empty edicts without any attempt to supply evidence. Anyone making a claim like this has the burden of supplying evidence, and there’s absolutely no evidence that amber has any nutritional value at all.

  5. Sarah Sevidal permalink

    Very interesting article, I always thought this was a natural remedy for babies, other than using bonjela as I heard that it isn’t very safe…so why exactly DO they sell amber necklaces & advertise it as such… if it is a cause of suffocation and strangling… would it not be avoided and warned about like SIDS?????

    • I don’t know that we can say that these necklaces have definitely caused choking and/or strangulation, Sarah. I don’t know of any reported cases, and I suppose that is what it would take to have them banned. However, kids have choked on lots of small objects, and I can’t see why amber beads would be any different. So whether there is actual evidence or not that they have caused harm, I think it’s irresponsible for anyone to promote their use when there is no evidence that they do any good.

      • Makenzie permalink

        Sarah-SIDS is sudden infant death syndrome which has nothing to do with strangulation.

        • Melissa B permalink

          Makenzie, Sarah did not say strangulation is the same thing- I’m sure she knows the difference. She was referring to WARNINGS. Please read comments before replying

    • Update 03/02/2013: To put some perspective on the risk, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for the five years 1999 to 2003 show that “other accidental threats to breathing”, which includes accidental suffocation, strangulation, and hanging as well as selected other separate causes, was a leading cause of death in children under 1 (88 deaths out of a total of 213).

      For some accounts describing actual choking incidents involving beads, see here and here.

      • Melissa B permalink

        Well Graham, I guess our babies should be left naked in an empty room according to you. EVERYTHING has risk. It is the parents who are accountable and responsible….as a mother, I am ALWAYS watching my baby. She doesn’t even notice/care about her necklace, but her evidence/attitude shows that her necklace works for her. The beads on her necklace measure about 3 mm, and there is a knot between each bead-if it broke, one bead would come off. The necklace came with a bracelet, and I broke that one myself to see what would happen. According to my doctor, they would pass right through her. Since medicine is science, I will trust my doctor over you.

  6. Pidge permalink

    Meanwhile Doctors everywhere aren’t demanding evidence that the level of toxic ingredients in vaccinations is ‘safe’… that empirical experimental evidence (seeing we all don;t like ‘anecdotal’ as is pointed out in this article) of ‘safe levels’ doesn’t even exist because it is ‘unethical’ to conduct studies injecting babies and children with heavy metals and toxic substances for experimentation sake, yet it is being done every day anyway. What IS known is that the heavy metals DO negatively impact neurological function and development, that is conclusive. The levels at which this begins to happen is unknown. So in that regard, the evidence that Succinic Acid is safe already is yards ahead of what modern medicine has been doing for decades. And you have parents ‘horrified’ that someone will put a necklace on their child, who then march their own child off to get their 10th dose of heavy metal poisoning for their short year or two of life and then give themselves a pat on the back for it.

    Human beings have been putting jewellery on infants and young children for thousands of years. Baltic Amber necklaces that are made properly (knotted between each bead, genuine baltic amber, the correct length for the baby) and that are checked often by parents can be worn safely. I know of zero cases where an Amber necklace has caused choking or strangulation. Pretty sure it would be highly publicised in the media should it happen. The Baltic Amber industry (or even the natural therapies industry as a whole) is hardly a force to be reckoned with, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, where hundreds of thousands of severe reactions to various drugs and vaccinations every year world wide get swept under the rug because of their ability to sway media or at least create spin… Um, the phrase ‘wake up’ comes to mind.

    • Pidge,

      I don’t know about elsewhere, but in Australia no childhood vaccines contain mercury (or any other heavy metal): http://ncirs.edu.au/immunisation/fact-sheets/thiomersal-fact-sheet.pdf

      You say:

      I know of zero cases where an Amber necklace has caused choking or strangulation. Pretty sure it would be highly publicised in the media should it happen.

      …which shows exactly why anecdotal evidence can’t be trusted. The fact that you don’t know of any cases is, I’m afraid, completely irrelevant.

      I suggest that you could benefit from the latest post on Science Or Not?, The scary science scenario – science portrayed as evil.

      • Jaime permalink

        Can you sight any cases of children or babies choking on or being strangled by teething beads Graham?
        I’ve searched the web and can’t find anything. The two cases you referenced above were beads of sorts (which can come in many sizes and shapes) but not amber teething beads.
        The first case you referenced was anecdotal. The second case says that the father and girlfriend are being investigated which says to me that there is more to it then is contained within the article.

        • You might like to re-check my comments above, where I’ve addressed this issue, Jaime. As I pointed out, I can’t cite any cases of amber beads causing choking, however there are plenty of instances of infants choking on small objects and I fail to see how amber beads would be immune. I might point out also that by definition, a case study must be anecdotal.

          Here‘s an old, but pertinent paper that highlights the risk of small objects.

      • Christine permalink

        Well that’s great for Australia, but maybe Pidge lives in the US?

        • Very few childhood vaccines in the US contain mercury, Christine. Have a look here: Thimerosal Content of Vaccines Routinely Recommended for Children 6 Years of Age and Younger. It’s really only some of the flu vaccines that contain any. There is no reason why a child should be exposed.

          • duncan permalink

            Having seen two sets of friends and then other friends associated with them all expressing satisfaction or conviction that amber necklaces worked for their children, and then also observing in my child a positive reaction, I can truly say that I couldn’t give a hoot whether it is because of some environmental ‘placebo’ effect, coincidence, or due to some calming effect actually due to the amber.There is however a substantial body of research associated with negative effects from vaccines, there is also a fact that over 100,000 deaths are recorded annually in the US due to adverse drug reactions – drugs prescribed by doctors, produced scientifically – as a result of scientific research in to the human body. And having witnessed a friend needing to be ‘skinned’ to survive Stephen’s Johnson syndrome and then read of children who had similar reactions to drugs like Calpol. I’ll stick to amber. Its been around for longer than most of that tosh, the anecdotal evidence is universally positive apart from polemic directed towards it.

          • Some pretty strong claims there, duncan.
            “the anecdotal evidence is universally positive” – Universally? Have a look here.
            While it’s well-known that some people experience reactions to vaccines, to say that “there is however a substantial body of research associated with negative effects from vaccines” is simply misleading. Under different circumstances I’d be interested to see details of any research you might have that shows that the adverse effects of vaccines outweigh the benefits, however, as I’ve pointed out before, this thread is about amber necklaces, not vaccines. It’s an unfortunate fact that most medications (including ‘natural’ ones) have side effects, and sometimes these are serious. Do you really believe that this rules all of them out as treatments for disease?

    • Lauren permalink

      “Meanwhile Doctors everywhere aren’t demanding evidence that the level of toxic ingredients in vaccinations is ‘safe’… that empirical experimental evidence (seeing we all don;t like ‘anecdotal’ as is pointed out in this article) of ‘safe levels’ doesn’t even exist because it is ‘unethical’ to conduct studies injecting babies and children with heavy metals and toxic substances for experimentation sake, yet it is being done every day anyway. What IS known is that the heavy metals DO negatively impact neurological function and development, that is conclusive. The levels at which this begins to happen is unknown.”

      Oh, Lord. “Lol” doesn’t quite cover it. You know why they don’t demand evidence that it’s safe? Because they already have it. Safe levels do in fact exist…ever pick up a box of aspirin, look at the back, and see the dosage information? Yeah, those are the safe levels. According to my box of Panadol, for my age, 1-2 tablets every 6hours, no more than 8 tablets in 24hours, is the safe amount of paracetamol. And the claim “the levels at which this begins to happen is unknown” is laughable. Again, you notice how medicines say “Take this amount, don’t take any more”? Yeah. That’s because they are well aware at the levels at which problems occur.

      Heavy metals like mercury can bad, that is true. But guess what? It’s just like any other substance – there is a certain amount that you can have before you start getting sick, and if you have any more, you’re screwed. EVERY substance is like that, even water – the only difference between toxic and non-toxic is the amount you can have before you get ill; but even if that amount it tiny, if you have significantly less, you’re okay.
      Mercury is like chlorine – if you convert it to a certain compound and only have a certain amount, you’re okay. You can combine chlorine with sodium to make table salt, and so long as you don’t gorge yourself on it, you can put it on your food and eat it. Same idea with mercury. Let me explain:

      Elemental mercury is a b***h. No two ways about it. When made into methyl-mercury, it’s still pretty toxic. The worst part is that it hangs around and accumulates in your system. However, it’s not as scary as elemental mercury – it’s the same type you find in fish, and I’ve yet to hear of anyone dying of mercury poisoning from eating too much tuna. But that’s just me.
      Neither of those are in, or have ever been in, vaccines. Vaccines contain, or used to contain, a substance called thimerosal. Thimerosal degrades to ETHYL-mercury; unlike the methyl version, ethyl-mercury does not hang around. It literally goes in one end and out the other; to get mercury poisoning from it, you would have to receive the toxic dose in one sitting. So do you get that from a vaccine?
      To be frank, no.
      First off, thimerosal is getting the boot from vaccines. It’s rarely seen these days. The few vaccines that still contain thimerosal are mainly the flu shot, and the adult meningococcal shot. I think the DTap (or something similar) has it as well, but they have such a pitiful amount, it’s not even worth the effort worrying about. I should point out, btw, that there are thimerosal-free alternatives for most thimerosal containing shots.
      The adult versions of the flu and meningococcal shots have the greatest amount of thimerosal, at 50micrograms per shot. If you Google any standard mercury content list (and I mean a REAL one, not one cooked up by Natural News or the Jenny McCarthy fan club), you will see that both have an ethyl-mercury content of 25micrograms, which equals about 50mcg thimerosal (thimerosal is about 50% ethyl-mercury by weight). Thimerosal has an LD50 of about 30mg/kg body weight.
      So let’s do some maths, shall we? Say you’re a 50kg/110 pound adult getting a flu shot. You’d need 1500mg of thimerosal to reach the danger zone. 1500mg translates to about 1.5 MILLION mcg. With 50mcg thimerosal per shot? A 50kg/110pound person would need a staggering 30 000 flu shots in a single sitting to put their life at risk. Thirty-freaking-thousand.
      If you’re receiving 30 000 vaccinations in a single sitting, you don’t have to worry about the neurological impact of mercury poisoning – you (and your GP) are clearly already insane. ;) Seriously though, who honestly goes as does something like that?
      Now, if you look at the content in kids vaccines, it’s pretty much the same story, with the highest contents being in the flu shot (25mcg thimerosal for one dose, 50mcg for 2 doses). Even if your child only weighed 10kg, you’d still need 6000 shots in one sitting. Hell, even if your kid only weighed ONE kilo, that’s still a good few hundred shots in a single sitting.

      Still think your vaccines are pumping you full of mercury and giving you mercury poisoning?
      And no, they don’t cause autism. Mercury poisoning can cause swelling in the brain, but that’s not autism, nor does it cause autism. They know it has a genetic link, they’ve identified the areas of the brain that cause the associated behaviours (something regarding protein transfer/reading not occurring as it should), and they’re able to diagnose autism long before a child ever receives their first vaccinations. Plus, I’ve legitimately lost count of the number of studies that has proven, beyond all doubt, that vaccines and mercury do not, and can not, cause autism.
      But hey, if you choose to listen to an ex Playboy bunny who is basing all her knowledge of autism off a child who isn’t actually autistic, and a study by a doctor who lost his medical licence after it was proven (and admitted by him) that the results were completely fraudulent and involved traumatic, invasive, and ILLEGAL testing on small children, then hey, go ahead. It’s not like trained scientists and the vaccines they produced have ever done anything good, like save our asses from polio and smallpox. And it’s not like you would ever rely on people who went to medical school for your medical information or treatment – even if you were in a car accident, or needed an organ transplant, or if your child was horrifically ill/injured, you wouldn’t listen to those actually trained in medicine to save you/them. Oh, wait…

  7. Blake permalink

    I found this while Googling the words of an image crossposted on Facebook. One thing I enjoy doing is checking Snopes for those stupid things that people share blindly without checking the facts, and saw an image claiming that a child had died from SIDS in NSW after wearing amber teething beads, and encouraging people to remove them – from the neck or ankle or otherwise.

    I couldn’t find anything refuting it, however. But I did find this place, so that’s a win!

    • kmc permalink

      all vaccines contain mercury in australia also wat a crock o shit…vaccines are deadly and can cause autism n lots of other ailments and they are ok but natural amber beads not doesnt make sense to me panadol is toxic just like so many other pharmaceuticals they r deadly …

      • kmc, the reason it doesn’t make sense to you is probably that you are badly informed. No childhood vaccines in Australia contain mercury (here). The possibility of a vaccines-autism link has been exhaustively tested, and there is none (here, here, here, here and here).

        May I suggest you have a look at these ScienceOrNot posts to overcome some of the misinformation you have encountered:
        The scary science scenario – science portrayed as evil
        Appeal to nature – the authenticity axiom
        Empty edicts – absence of empirical evidence

        • Despite the lack of Thiomersal in vaccines this day in age, there are tons of other ingredients that can affect children and adults. Research the ingredients of a given vaccine and you will probably be appalled. The risk of beads coming off of a properly made amber necklace is far lower than the body’s ability to handle all the foreign contaminants in vaccines at the young age they are administered.

          • I am not at all appalled by the ingredients in vaccines, Nicholas. There are certainly no “foreign contaminants”. You have been hoodwinked by the antivaxers. Nothing in life is risk-free, but submitting children to a risk is inexcusable when there is no benefit, as in the case of amber beads. With vaccination, the risk of adverse reaction is tiny compared to the risks of contracting the disease. Vaccines significantly reduce the risk – that’s simple risk management

        • Graham, seriously? Have you ever asked your doctor for a copy of the ingredients from the syringe he was about to inject? Obviously not. The info is freely available if you ask for it.

          • I’m well aware of the contents of vaccines, Nicholas, and as I said, I’m not concerned. However, this post is about amber necklaces, so I hope you understand if I don’t allow any more comments along these lines.

          • Lauren permalink

            Let’s see…
            Thimerosal, which (when actually present) is in such a low dosage, an average person would require tens of thousands of shots in one sitting to be in danger.

            Formaldehyde, which occurs naturally in both the food you eat and your own human body, in much greater amounts than what is found in vaccines. If my body makes much more naturally than what is being injected, why would I worry about being poisoned from the injected amount?

            Aluminium, which again, is in a pitiful amount. A baby receives more from 6 months of breastfeeding than the first round of vaccinations. Seriously, there is more aluminium occurring in the food you eat than your shots; that goes for adults and infants. Take a look at the average aluminium consumption by babies who are fed formula, or soy formula for 6 months – if the amounts in vaccines are bad, then those amounts are terrifying! And yet, I’ve never heard of an infant getting aluminium poisoning from formula, have you?

        • http://www.activistpost.com/2013/07/courts-rule-vaccines-containing-mmr-and.html Vaccines DO cause autism. The mercury can cause brain inflammation, which leads to autism. Please don’t even try to think science is better than thousands of years of remedies.

          • The science overwhelmingly says you are wrong, Kayla. Here’s the latest confirmation: Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism. Yes, science is better than thousands of years of “remedies”, and there are good reasons why it is better. You are resorting to the argument from antiquity, which doesn’t hold water. In any case, I can’t see how it can even be applied to the case of vaccines. Courts have awarded damages in a few specific individual cases. To claim they have confirmed vaccines cause autism is both dishonest and ridiculous. Dishonest because the courts were not attempting to prove a link in the first place, and ridiculous because a court of law has no competence to confirm such a link anyway. It’s a scientific issue.

          • Lauren permalink

            You know that inflammation is not the same as autism, right? Nor is autism caused by inflammation, in any way, shape or form. I don’t know where you got THAT ridiculous idea.
            Two completely different things; the only thing they have in common is the organ involved. Your claim makes about as much sense as me saying that salt DOES cause congenital hydronephrosis, because too much salt can cause kidney problems, and kidney problems that you develop long after you’re born can somehow cause your organs to go back in time and not develop properly in the womb.

            And btw, if you honestly think those thousands of years of remedies are that good, then you clearly have very low standards. All the natural remedies people had did nothing for all the nasty epidemics throughout history that killed practically every man and his donkey. Black Death, for example – natural remedies really dropped the ball on that one! If it were to come around again, it’d be thanks to SCIENCE that we would know where it comes from, how to treat it, and how to stop it. And remind me again, when it came to saving our arses from smallpox and polio, was it natural remedies, or science, that eventually stepped up to the plate?

            And you do realise the irony of using the internet and a computer, both inventions of SCIENCE, to tell the entire world that science is rubbish compared to the natural stuff? Heck, it’s so ironic, they even have a nifty little graphic for it ;)

      • Jay permalink

        kmc sounds like you’ve been spending a bit too much time on the Australian (anti)Vaccination Network website.

        Also, I fail to see how panadol is harmful. It works to bring down temperature during fever which is highly valuable to me when I see my children suffering from fever. The health risks from fever are not acceptable when simple medical treatments like panadol are available. Basic first aid. You wouldn’t refuse a dressing for a gash on your arm, would you?

        • You do understand that a fever is the body’s way of fighting off infection? Research when fevers start to be a problem for a child. There is no reason to mediate a fever that isn’t high enough to hurt you, you are just pausing the bodies fight on the virus that is likely causing it. Science for the win here.

        • Maddy permalink

          Panadol(/paracetamol/acetaminophen) is toxic to the liver. Hadn’t realized it was so complicated to do just a BIT of research to alleviate your ignorance on a matter.

          • Maddy, paracetamol is only “toxic to the liver” if you overdose on it. Surely you know that? It’s the dose that makes the poison, after all. Drink enough water and that will f@ck you up, too. Should we not give water to children then?

        • Melissa B permalink

          My child has not had a fever at any point during her teething. Fever is no longer associated with teething- it is unrelated and should be treated on it’s own. But once the fever is gone, and the pain persists, you cannot keep giving your child Panadol 4-6 times a day everyday for the months/years that teething can last. Not only will the child develop “immunity” to the effects of the medication, but my doctor does not recommend it. I think a necklace is a different alternative, and parents have the right to try it.

    • LOL – same here!! Did a child die from choking on these???

  8. Trish permalink

    I found this also by googling bout the post on Facebook so is it true? I enjoyed reading the article and reading the replies I believe it is a personal choice for you to choose I think it comes with being a parent! You know what’s good and what’s not for your baby and when in doubt dr google always helps lol no just kidding checking with your nurse or obs or gp is always the best! We have notice a big difference to wearing them and taking them off in the drooling and fist mouthing and her general mood! So they work for us! I was actually told a complete different story the other day I was told the were used by South American women for years and the minerals would absorb through the skin and through the breast milk the baby would receive the benefit of the minerals due to me not being very scientific I obviously may have the story a bit wrong but I like that story! Sounds heaps better sorry!!

    • Sounds like a fairly unlikely story to me, Trish. Amber is fossilised tree resin, so my guess is that any mineral content would be pretty minimal. Even if it is absorbed through the skin (which I doubt), any contribution it made to the mineral content of breast milk would be negligible in comparison to the amount contributed by breakdown of normal food items.

  9. I was totaly skeptical about using an amber necklace and expected it to do nothing. I was surprised when my son stopped drooling and was calmer, happier. I would take it off him loads of times and then have the same effect when I put it back on.

    Science can be slow at working out why things work and even slower at finding out what is actually bad for us. I don’t want to wait around and suffer with my baby while it takes it’s sweet time.

    Stranglation or suffercation via amber teething necklaces are unscientificaly proven, there is no data or very little incidence. Therefore good odds and whether you like it or not, whenever give your kids medication or vaccine- you are also taking odds on their health. I like the weigh the odds and inform myself with the whole story and that includes parents experiences as well as science. The best of both worlds

    • Neen, in response to your comment, I can do no more than reiterate what I’ve already put into the post above. I’m intrigued about what you mean by “unscientifically proven”, but it seems to me that there’s plenty of evidence that small objects can cause suffocation. The fact that those small objects are not frequently reported to be amber beads doesn’t mean that there’s some magical quality about them that prevents suffocation. I think it’s also important to realise that humans are not good at intuitive statistics, and that’s why randomised controlled trials are used to settle issues like this. An RCT would take account of cases where the beads don’t work, the cases that people don’t bother telling you about via anecdotes. However, I suspect there’s not likely to be a RCT ever done on this issue because the ethical issue of risk would prevent it.

  10. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    placebo or not Rooster syndrome or not, they work for lots of families. I think the risk of choking appears to be minimal, especially as you have only been able to find 2 cases. I need more evidence of a choking risk to be alarmed. Each individual bead is knotted so if the string breaks one bead comes off, a very small baby would be unlikely to be able to then pick that bead up, lacking the pincer grasp until approx 6-8 months of age, and put it in their mouth let alone swallow it, young babies have a reflex until around 6 months that pushes the tounge forward and pushing out of their mouths, which is why babies in our culture start solids around 6 months of age when this reflex disappears. At 6 months a baby might have better luck swallowing or inhaling a bead and thus choking but once again 2 reported cases is not enough evidence for me to be alarmed.
    Graham with all due respect your article is interesting but your subsequent comments are a tad argumentative and you are contradictory. You state anecdotal evidence lacks substance and that mere opinions cannot lend credit to an arguement and yet in your last comment above me here, you clearly use your own opinion to try to discredit a story, how can you guess and claim to be scientific???. Thanks but no thanks, I will continue to use amber beads on my daughter and quite happily at that. I also think you fear things that cannot be explained, things that cannot be explained are not witchcraft, voodoo or black magic.. there are some things that just..are.

    • Angela, the difference is that I offer my opinion as opinion, not as evidence.

      The 2 cases you refer to are media reports I found in a quick search. They were never meant to be a measure of the prevalance of choking, but simply to show that it can occur.To use these cases as an indicator of the risk involved is misleading. You’ll notice that in one of the comments above, I gave some actual statistics:

      Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for the five years 1999 to 2003 show that “other accidental threats to breathing”, which includes accidental suffocation, strangulation, and hanging as well as selected other separate causes, was a leading cause of death in children under 1 (88 deaths out of a total of 213).

      Regarding your argument that babies younger than 6 months can’t choke – isn’t the typical age for first teething around 6 – 9 months?

      • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

        Graham, whats good for one is good for another.. is an offer of opinion not what some other commenters here have offered?
        your ABS statistics are not specifically about amber beads, more evidence of amber beads and their specific risk is required for this argument, to present those figures in this case is just drumming up a scare.. in my opinion of course… The full statistic needs to be explored to ascertain what the cause of choking, strangulation or hanging was in each case. My GP recently told me that he had read the most likely cause of choking or inhalation of a foreign body in infants was a peanut, im unsure if this is entirely true and I apologise I do not have tme to check myself at this time. I could almost guarentee that you will not find an amber necklace with beads anywhere near as large as a peanut.

        Hmmmm Im suprised that you have comprehended my comment as a statement that babies can’t choke, that is clearly not what I said Graham!. I was simply pointing out the diffuculty a small baby would have in picking up a fallen amber bead, placing it in their mouths and choking on it.
        While it’s fair to say the typical age for the appearance of the first tooth is around 6-7 months it is not necessarily the norm either, my baby started teething at 3 months of age which is when I first started using a necklace. In my mothers group of 16 babies, 4 have teethed before 6 months.
        A baby then who is used to solid food beyond 6 months is more likely to swallow an object they have picked up then choke on it ..read again: the beads are QUITE small and just not likely to become lodged in the oesophagus or trachea. Perhaps this is why a quick search is unable to find more incidence of choking, becasue it simply does not happen. If it did, it would certainly have gotten around to us mothers fairly quickly, especially in the age of social media ready to stamp out any and every product that is likely to cause or children the slightest harm, Instead what you will find is a plethora of mums and dads swearing by the use of these necklaces in aid of teething pain, scientific efficacy for them or not.

        • Angela,
          Opinion offered as opinion: I think amber teething necklaces are dangerous
          Opinion offered as evidence: I think amber teething necklaces made my child feel better; this means they work.

    • REC permalink

      I think we all understand your view graham. You don’t like amber necklaces and you want them bad. But as you can see they work for dome. You have told us your children and grand children are well and truelly padt teething issues, well thats awesome for you. So why are you attacking a parenting choice. I don’t use tgem but I believe parents have a right to make choices with out having would be parents dicated how they raise there kids. You’ve had your turn, now let this generation have theres. Its seems in this day and age all of sociality believe they have the right to tell parents what to do. I’m sure if some question your choice of how you raised your kids you would have stood up for your parental choice! Sadly your are not letting parents do that! You are slamming them with the same comment over and over again. Its your way or the high way. Society need to leave parents alone we aren’t dumb we make informed choice and do what we believe is right for OUR children.

      • REC permalink

        Apologise for spelling on phone

      • You have missed the point of my post altogether, REC. I don’t think you’ll find any evidence that I want amber teething necklaces banned. My attitude is that no one, least of all pharmacists, has the right to promote and/or sell them as effective in relieving teething discomfort unless there is good, scientific evidence supporting this claim. There is none. And it’s not as though it’s simply a matter of promoting something that’s ineffective. There is a significant risk involved (again, I don’t believe in magic, and I don’t see any reason why an amber bead can’t suffocate a baby). Personally, I think people who use them on their children are behaving irresponsibly, and I don’t think they have the right to subject babies to the risk, but I have no intention of interfering. It’s when they want to recruit others into the practice on the basis of flimsy anecdotal evidence that I get concerned.

        • Anita permalink

          I guess that goes for all the people who put necklaces on their babies for religious reasons too? So many irresponsible parents…..

        • Melissa B permalink

          How can you keep saying they are “ineffective”? How many people in the comments have stated that it works for their children? Now, how many comments are from parents who claim it doesn’t work? Or that their child died because of an amber bead? THAT is your evidence. Science would rather investigate other issues, because to them, this is probably a very insignificant issue- because there are no cases. If it was such a hazard or concern, I’m most certain that they would have conducted experiments and research. Don’t you think?

  11. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    Have you actually held one of these necklaces in your hand Graham, to get the feel of one as far as risk goes? have you personally done any tests upon them to have any reason to suggest that they are in fact a risk of suffocation and that a huge percentage of parents are therfore irresponsible?. I guess i’d feel more comfortable about you calling me irresponsible if you had.
    As you have as yet presented no clear case of definate risk to babies suffocating, I will continue to use one on my daughter with a clear conscience and remember that you are just one man, one man who from some of your statements it would appear is from the era where it was thought putting small pieces of soap into a babies anus was a good way of relieving constipation, so having said that I think the very small risk of my baby choking on a bead (which is in itself unlikely to become detached from the necklace itself as they are all knotted individually) is a risk I’m willing to take if the necklace APPEARS to give her relief from teething.. thousands of parents have sworn to the benefits of using amber I will say it again- scientific efficacy for them or not. I think you would find if yourself in a little bit of strife if you told alot of those parents that you think they are acting irresponsibly and they should not have the right to endanger their babies, Ithink you might find many of them telling you that you do not have the right to pass judgement on them. Do you honestly think that these parents would willingly endanger a child?

    • Please tell me what test I would perform to find out whether a baby can choke on an amber teething necklace.

      • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

        have you tried to pull a necklace apart? have you tried to isolate one bead from the rest so that It could be swallowed? have you tested how strong different brands of the necklaces are? the strength of the different clasps used?
        evidence that they work? my baby stops screaming when wearing it, starts screaming again when it’s taken off. that is not an opinion that is a fact, you cannot convince me that the pain would have gone away on its own. Amber teething necklaces work here for my chilkd at reducing her pain and many parents agree with me. Just live with it, it’s something that cannot be scientifically proved through RCT’s but the evidence lies in the opinions of people that use them.. I don’t have time for this anymore, Ihave more important things to do like feeding and bathing my children than to sit on the computer and argue and pontificate with someone who is never going to see it any other way than the opinion you have alreaqdy made..
        thats me out
        Angela

        • In case you change your mind Angela, I’d be interested to know your child’s response to the necklace compared to the response to the other methods you’ve tried.

  12. where teething is concerned nothing is a sure fire solution… ive tried calpol powders liquids for the gums and still my babies have suffered… my sons management seems to be better since wearing his anklet… and i feel the risk of strangulation isnt a factor at all and the risk of choking nil as the beads are so small the one that became free between the thread would go straight down… when i can keep the anklet on my daughter im am sure it will benefit her too

  13. I do want to add my two cents. I have a son who was extremely fussy and began cutting teeth quite young. I personally wouldn’t feel right medicating a child at that age with substances that have been found to cause issues for children. Every pain reliever or gum number on the market that I researched was reported as causing some sort of side-effect that I am not okay with taking a chance on.

    We decided on using an baltic amber necklace, after some testing of the product’s integrity. We saw improvements within days. Less drooling, less whining… We put the necklace on our son at 8 months old and have not seen an issue with it’s integrity since. I have checked for any loose beads or frays in the thread about once a month since putting it on. We never remove it, he bathes with it, sleeps with it, runs around buck naked in it… He is now 22 months and it still looks great, he is also way past the eating random things stage. He hasn’t known life without this necklace and I know it would be upsetting for him if we removed it or it broke.

    Parents should take responsibility in making sure their children are safe, yes. However, there are plenty of other things that children are put through that are far worse (and riskier) than these necklaces. There is tons of research out there to support the dangers of many of them too. Whereas these necklaces do not have much research either way (other than anecdotal evidence) on their effectiveness or safety. WFM I guess.

    The things I would rather see someone campaign against than a d*mn necklace are: vaccines, circumcision, feeding children junk (soda, processed foods, etc.), cry it out method, spanking, shaking babies, and removing stigmas surrounding breastfeeding, co-sleeping, midwives/doulas/homebirth and many other things that are proven to be way more beneficial to a child and the parent/child relationship than what the popular media tries to convince us of.

    These necklaces should not be a target of controversy with the problems we have in how we are promoted to parent our children by mainstream media, bigpharma, the food industry and the government. Find something else to do with your time.

    • Nicholas,

      I think my time is well spent, particularly as I approach things rationally and don’t see conspiracies everywhere.

      • I never said anything about conspiracies, only that industries guide us through mainstream media, which is their job. Capitalism alone has driven various industries/companies to work on conditioning people to believe whatever it is that is most profitable to their business. Anyone who blindly believes the mainstream media is not looking out for their children the way they should.

        Anyhow, that is off topic as far as amber necklaces are concerned, so really no reason to debate. However, not sure how your (insinuated) attack at my “see[ing] conspiracies everywhere” gives any more discredit to amber necklaces. Rather than make an intellectual response you attempt to follow with a simple insult by gleaning what you can from my comment, how very… clever. The statement you made is more of a retort than anything, you might as well just said, “yo mama!”

    • I am on the same page as you Nicholas. Those are the topics that should be discussed and researched in depth. Not the necklaces that have not been scientifically studied because they would be proven to work, not to mention, what long-term double-blind studies have been done on vaccines?

      • That’s an interesting one Kayla. You are implying that scientists won’t study amber necklaces because they know they would be “proven” to work! What possible motivation could they have for doing this? If the necklaces work, why wouldn’t scientists be keen to show this? Aren’t you jumping to conclusions?

      • I am not implying. I am saying outright. They haven’t been studied. They cannot patent it, therefore they cannot make money off of it, so why would someone pay for someone else to prove they work, when there is nothing that they can benefit from? It’s common sense, I’m not blaming they, just showing common sense reasoning. I know at least 100 people that use these necklaces/bracelets and have even used them myself, and have found that they help a lot with my everyday aches and pains. I’m not jumping to conclusions.

        • That they haven’t been studied doesn’t imply that they work. Instead, it means that we have no empirical justification for drawing conclusions on whether or not they work. The reasonable course of action is to provisionally accept the null hypothesis until more (rigorous) data are available, and the null hypothesis is that they do not work. Considering how implausible the claims of a mechanism are, this seems a reasonable approach. To do otherwise is, by definition, jumping to conclusions.

          The reason why there need to be good tests of this done before it’s reasonable to conclude that they work is that there is no other way to account for potential confounding factors. That’s what it means to do a good test – to conduct a test that accounts for these potential confounding factors. Even if you did see an effect following your use of them, without a proper test having been done there’s no way to rule out things like the placebo effect, selection bias, regression to the mean, or observer bias.

  14. carly permalink

    Hi Graham,
    I just discovered your website via this post, and I want to compliment you on your calm, polite tone in response to comments, the reasonable way you approach topics, and the discussion you facilitate. Well done.

  15. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    Carly – that is hilarious! im half wondering if you are being sarcastic but sadly I really think you mean it.. Oh dear :-(

  16. cindel permalink

    Hi Graham, what an excellent blog. I’m amazed at how defensive parents are about the methods they think have worked for their children. The very fact that some of the babies apparently scream as soon as the necklace is taken off should tell them something, like maybe it’s become a habit for the child to wear it? I’m no expert but if this amber did release something into the baby’s system (in which case it is horrifically irresponsible to use with no evidence on what else it might be doing to the child) wouldn’t it take some time for this to work its way out of the baby’s system?
    I do not believe in “respecting” all of parents choices. A parent’s choice is not some sacred, infallible thing. They can make the wrong choice and it’s not disrespect to call a bad choice a bad choice. It’s common sense.

    • Thanks cindel,
      I agree. Frankly, I find it difficult to accept that amber releases anything at all into the child, at least in comparison with the levels of succinic acid that are already in the body. My feeling is that most of the use of these necklaces is based on magical thinking.

  17. cindelella permalink

    Parents need to realise that their choices are not some infallible thing that everyone else needs to respect. If you want to put a necklace on your child that you think is having some kind of physiological effect without proper evidence of what it is actually doing to your baby, nobody has to respect that. It’s common sense.
    Angela says she first started using the necklace as soon as her baby started teething. She then has no idea whether it’s making any difference and the fact that her baby screams could be nothing more than the baby being used to the necklace and breaking the habit of wearing it upsets the baby.
    I’m no expert, but if there was something in the baby’s system from this necklace wouldn’t it take some time to work its way out of the baby’s body?
    In fact Angela, you say that it’s “Not something that can be proved [sic] with RCTs” but of course it could be. It could be easily studied and proven one way or another.
    The fact that it hasn’t been and you use it anyway is irresponsible and nobody is under any obligation to respect an irresponsible choice that a parent makes.

  18. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    cindelella – my daughter is 7 months old, shes not aware that shes wearing a necklace, if its taken off she does not scream immediately, but if she begins teething again while she is not wearing it, her screams of pain stop, and in my opinion her pain eases when its put back on. I am under no obligation to respect your opinion of my parenting which you have formed from a few comments on a blog, on the internet! nor should I take offense to it, so I don’t. Narrow minded people sit behind computers and pass judgement on things they are afraid of and people they disagree with. You have the right to your opinion however. I have the opinion that im glad my daughter is not jammed full of panadol and i have not covered her gums in bonjella because I found an alternative therapy that eases her pain. Graham for the record and in response to your question – panadol is difficult for her to swallow, she gags and we feel like we are traumatising her by forcing her to swallow it when we give it, have tried hiding it in food also and it gets spat out and there is no clear way of knowing how much of the dose she has received. we have also tried brauers teething relief which is a homeopathic formulation, using it when the symptoms are acute as well as using the necklace is what we do to ease our daughters pain. It is not irresponsible or horrific that we use amber on our child, we are both educated and doting parents. amber has been used as natural and homeopathic pain relief for centuries, there have been no RCT’s to prove that it works but generations of families must be wrong as no scientific evidence as yet exists as proof of its properties and their actions? really?

    • Angela, you might like to have a look at Appeals to ancient wisdom – trusting traditional trickery and Appeal to nature – the authenticity axiom to get my perspective on your argument. By the way, our grandchildren are quite happy taking childrens’ panadol liquid from a syringe.

    • I’m not asking you to respect my opinion. In fact I am saying the same thing, it amazes me how parents are surprised that people find their unscientific and possibly dangerous choices to be a stupid approach and think we should all just hush up and bow to their parental wisdom because it’s their “choice”.
      You think you’ve found something that works for your child, but the fact that it’s untested means you are being irresponsible.
      There are many generations of families in many cultures that do ineffective or damaging things to their kids based on superstition or untested pseudo science.
      Also I’m sorry but what is it I’m supposed to be “afraid” of here? That some parents use remedies that are either ineffective or effective for an unknown, untested reason? Actually you’re right, that is kind of scary.
      Also you used the work “homeopathic”, therefore I’m excused from engaging with you any further as you obviously have no interest in anything that can be measured or tested and would rather cure your child of ailments with new aged magic. Graham is right about the “magical thinking”.
      Despite the fact that there is a million dollar prize up for grabs if someone can prove under reasonable experimental conditions that homeopathic remedies work better than a similarly administered placebo NOBODY HAS YET BEEN ABLE TO PROVE IT. Many have tried and it has failed 100% of tests. Homeopathy is placebo. The placebo effect is fine when talking about head colds but dangerous when people try to cure their cancer with homeopathy. Lots of people die this way, so it is not harmless.
      But whatever, you do what you want with your kid buy all the homeopathy, healing magnets, power bracelets and magic water you want, it’s your money. It’s just lucky for you that you don’t care what people think.

      • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

        You think I’m irresponsible – I think you are narrow minded.. Your opinion of homeopathy is laughable.. I love opinions, everyone is entitled to them and everyone has them.. I feel sorry for you actually and I’m glad my child will have the opportunity to grow up in a loving and peaceful environment where magic is encouraged and supported, where homepathic remedys are used in abundance and natural therapies are allowed, also allowed are antibiotics when they are required for infection, immunisation as essential, we are parents who read widely and think long and hard about parenting and all it’s many facets.. I will not ever dismiss a thing or begin using a thing without first finding out as much information as I can about it, discussing it with my partner and then make an informed descision…I did not blindly walk into a store and see an amber teething necklace and say :ohh pretty.. and hang it around my daughters neck! Just for the record here I am a registered nurse and I often come across cancer patients who use homeopathic remedies.. You are clearly afraid of things that cannot be tested, things that cannot be proven.. in my career as a nurse I have come across many things that have no meaning, explanation or place in the world of science and medicine.When I did my degree we were encoraged to learn about homeopathics and to, in the right circumstances advocate their use to patients I have also watched medicine and science cure, and it’s a marvelous thing to see. I can see both sides of this coin.. .. Sadly there are many people who cannot.. there are religous nuts who believe the world is 4000 years old and there are science nuts who believe that homeopathic rememdies are unproven and therefore dangerous.. there are naural nuts who believe that they should put no chemical in their bodies and many harmless things are poison.. but they are all nuts.. open your mind!. . by the way I had no intention of making you bow to my parental wisdom, Im quite aware that Im human and no human is perfect, I dont claim to know it all or be the best parent who ever lived, but I believe there are things more shocking than using amber.. the fact that I use an amber teething necklace with great sucess as a remedy for teething pain on my daughter does not make me an irresponsible parent, that is has been untested does not make me irresponsible, I think parents who allow their children to suffer without treatment or continually dose with panadol are irresponsible..but once again that of course.. is my opinion…

        • Angela, not proven by definition means failure to provide evidence. If you can’t provide evidence more than likely it doesn’t work. Homeopathy is dangerous nonsense. It is magic. A substance is diluted so much that not even one molecule of active ingredient still exists in the water. You’re medicating with water or sugar pills. There is nothing in it. No evidence has ever been provided of homeopathy’s eficacy. If you’ve read as widely as you say you’d know this.
          Why is panadol irresponsible?

          • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

            Shane – http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/23/3/60/1

            http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/95/9/609.long

            Paracetemol is dangerous… in the hands of a parent who does not know any better, they may inadvertently overdose a baby.. lots of babies spit it out resulting in the parent redosing, then an unkown amount of paracetemol is given. Babies teethe for days at a time, I certainly see dosing with Panadol for pain relief for more than 24 hours to be irresponsible and potentially life threatning.
            I did mention that I have a nursing degree and that we were encoraged to study homeopathics briefly, so of course Im aware a lack of hard evidence exists for their eficacy. That however, does not mean I have dismissed them, placebo or not. I am not afraid of using them myself, for my family, or recommending them to a patient as a complimentary treatment. i do not believe they are dangerous. Panadol however….

        • Just out of interest, Angela: I accept the scientific evidence (here and here) that homeopathy is no better than a placebo. I also accept the evidence (here) that the use of homeopathy in lieu of evidence-based methods can be harmful. Does that make me a “science nut”?

          • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

            from everything I have read here on your blog, i would have to say that you are a bit of a nutty scientist that has no time for the unkown, the unexplainable and the magical of the world.. therefore yes a bit of nut im sorry..you are but another extremist, In my opinion, and It is only an opinion, sometimes science does not answer everything, it is unable to, or it has not been done/proven/tested YET… I have enjoyed the debate and I truly mean no disrespect.. but those of you that cannot accept these things are as bad as the nut variety that believes the universe is 4000 years old.. Im not a believer that a cancer patient should forgo chemotherapy or radiation therapy and turn solely to homeopathy I would however not discourage that patient from using them as a complimentary therapy

          • Hmmm. An interesting perspective. So my stance, that claims should not be accepted unless there is supporting evidence, is, in your view, extremist and nutty, while your stance, that all opinions are equally worthy of consideration, is not?

          • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

            I think having an open mind is the best way to learn and live in this world, I think steadfastly holding onto a viewpoint be it scientific, magical, religious/atheist is folly.. i’m always learning and Im always willing to think twice ..

          • Sounds like a recipe for wishful thinking to me Angela. Open-mindedness does not imply that any idea that comes along is just as valid as any other. Surely you must have some criteria for deciding what is realistic and what’s not? Science is absolutely based on the concept of being open-minded. All scientific models are tentative – they are regarded as being the best explanation unless evidence for a better model turns up. But simply latching on to some idea because it sounds good is indeed folly. Evidence is always the key.

      • Melissa B permalink

        It works for most parents- that’s your proof. :D

  19. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    oh for goodness sake! – okay im not arguing with you, im not trying to trick anyone into beliving something they are against!! you really sound a bit like a nut job now! and I had you pegged as fairly intelligent! Graham, every child is different, Panadol comes with a syringe and of course thats how we have tried to give it, she struggles, wails, goes red in the face and spits it out.. incidently we give her the brauers teething relief in exactly the same syringe and she has no problem swallowing that. Im not going to traumatise my child and force her to swallow it unless she has a fever and needs panadol as an antipyretic. Im not going to waste anymore time here, You are never going to change your views on amber, I really hope a scientist does an RCT on the efficacy of succinic acid as a pain reliever soon so there is some evidence for all of us “irresponsible” parents
    Good day and peace to you and yours

    • I’m sure many of us would change our position on amber for two reasons:
      1. Efficacy – if it could actually been shown to work.
      2. If it wasn’t in the form of a choking hazard.

  20. Angela daughter of Larry permalink

    I just want to know: In exactly what way do you believe it is a choking hazard.. details please

    • shaggeroz permalink

      Assuming you’re not kidding, small beads on a string for starters and if the string is strong enough it is a strangulation hazard.

      • Angela daughter of Larry permalink

        well that proves that you have not actually had anything to do with an amber teething necklace in the flesh. Each individual bead is individually knotted so if in the case that the necklace snaps beads do not go flying.. Im not sure about others but I am not in the habit of leaving my 7 month old daughter alone long enough for her to swallow the necklace or try to choke on it for that matter.. as far as a strangulation hazard, once again, I cannot speak for others, but she is always with me, I do not leave her alone long enough to give her the opportunity to strangle herself. By the way the individual knotting I think you will find is standard with almost every brand of amber teething necklace sold, i know myself I did quite a bit of hunting around to find the best quality one I could find. You cannot pass judgement on the risk of something that you have not physically or scientifically if you please, tested yourself or can provide evidence of being tested by another.

        • Angela,
          I can’t speak for shaggeroz, but I’m very relieved to hear that you don’t leave the necklace on while your daughter is sleeping or away from supervision. That reduces the risk significantly.

          • drrach permalink

            I’m relieved too… however I have to say, I found this site after hearing two mothers discussing leaving these necklaces on their babies 24/7. Including at night.

  21. Fascinating reading. Scary at times. I am sitting with a cranky baby in my arms, periodically offering a sliver of ice (boiled before frozen, contained in a munchkin mesh…before anyone gets upset) to soothe his gums. Amber necklaces is a bit of craze in my neck of the woods, but I have been cynical so thought I would do a bit of research before purchasing one. And what a minefield! Parenting issues are always emotive I suppose. I appreciate Graham’s measured response to some outrageously fallacious claims made by those furiously defending their stance. Do people who will not consider any other views contrary to their own actively seek out posts like this? Most curious how they end up here…

    While I am aware that science has its limitations (just because there is no proof of the necklace’s efficacy doesn’t mean that there is no effect, good or bad) I shall keep my $30 and carry on with the hard work of getting my boy through teething without the amber beads. My decision is based on the fact that there are some obvious, if unlikely, risks and no proven benefit.

    • I hope you won’t mind if I say that you are sensibly skeptical, but not cynical, haadijames. I admire your decision and hope that your son is over the worst of it soon.

  22. Molls permalink

    There are a lot of comments here and I have to admit I haven’t read through them all so if I repeat something then I’m sorry but I just couldn’t risk reading another story of ‘oh, they work’ and ‘drink s**t through a straw’. So unnecessary.

    What I have found through personal experience with parents that I personally know and that have used these baltic amber teething necklaces and bracelet’s 4/5 believe they work, 1/5 has said it did nothing but those four out of five, since putting a necklace on their babies have been comforting them more by holding them and interacting more with them because they need to always supervise their babies while they’re wearing these beads. I think holding, comforting and interacting with your baby has a much more of an impact on how they handle teething pains than a strangulation and choking hazard. My baby girl only ever wanted cuddles while she was teething and guess what happened when she didn’t have cuddles fast enough? She was irritated, upset and drooled a lot because 1. Babies are supposed to drool when teething (and so if they stopped drooling with these necklaces on than in my opinion that just points to it coming to an end for now and nothing to do with the necklaces) and 2. She was crying and upset, she didn’t care what came out of her mouth, she wanted cuddles and as soon as we were able to, that’s what we did, cuddled her.

    By the sounds of some of these parents, they’re just buying into the hype and going with the fashion more than actually being concerned for their babies. If they were concerned about their babies then they wouldn’t be putting anything potentially harmful around their babies necks. ‘Oh but I supervise my child all the time, he’s never out of my sight’ And you can guarantee that you keep your eyes on your child every. single. second. that they wear that necklace? That you don’t nip off to answer the door or pop the kettle on, after all you’re only gone a second and that doesn’t count, does it? Oh, or you could always ask a friend to watch them, or when they’re at daycare, because they’ll keep an eye on them at all times, right? I know not all parents that use the beads are like this but some are, I’ve witnessed it and it’s a scary thing when a child comes into a daycare centre with one of those necklaces on that you didn’t realise they were wearing and the parents neglected to tell you about. What if all of a sudden you find yourself in an emergency, needing to help someone out and you all of a sudden forget that your child is wearing the necklace because your attention has been diverted else where? Seriously, why put something so precious in any sort of potential danger?

    • Melissa B permalink

      Yes, you could say that parents are not watching every second (and yet, no reported incidents involving amber), but chances are it’s going to be something else they will find first. Unless you keep your child in a completely empty room, with nothing on at all, risks are everywhere.

  23. Mandy permalink

    I’m with Mark. My son loves his and I’ve witnessed it work. I just laugh at articles like this where someone with an angry stick up their ass walks around trying to disprove everything. Sometimes things just work and you don’t have the comprehension to accept that or prove why.

    Your kid would have to be an idiot and one to knock off through natural selection to strangle themselves with a teething necklace. Seriously.

  24. Kristen Marquis permalink

    Your comments about parents not considering a strangulation hazard are rude, uninformed, and pompous.
    Amber necklaces designed for infants are designed to break away at the clasp with any significant pressure and the stones are individually knotted so as to prevent the entire strand from spilling off. Individual stones are so tiny that they would pass through the entire system without any problem
    As to the remark of anecdotal evidence being worthless, that is purely a judgment on your part, but it is one that you present as the ultimate authority on the subject. Your bias against such remedies is slathered all over this writing, which makes it of limited usefulness, in addition to betraying your unwillingness to see others’ viewpoints. You clearly decided that there was a particular conclusion you wished to arrive at, and then set about directing all results toward that end.

    Bottom line, if you don’t want to avail yourself of possible natural solutions in healing, then don’t. It’s not necessary to try to make others who do feel less intelligent than you.

    • Kristen, here’s a good summary of the reasons why anecdotal evidence is not reliable: Why Anecdotal Evidence is Unreliable: The case against raspberry ketones and Dr. Oz
      You obviously believe I have succumbed to confirmation bias. By all means, please provide details of relevant studies I have neglected to include. I will happily revise my post to take them into account.

    • So Kristin, would you let a baby play with say, a dried pea? They are about the same size as the beads I’ve seen. I wouldn’t- still a choking hazard, IMO.
      Graham’s bias is towards scientific evidence. Evidence is meant to empower us to make logical decisions. If you choose not to, then don’t. It’s not up to science to worry about how you feel. Facts are facts and the simple truth is that there is zero scientific evidence to support the use of amber teething necklaces- even the way the manufacturers claim they work is scientifically impossible- and an element of risk to their use.

    • Ally permalink

      The sad fact is, that while there have not been any deaths from this, whose to say in the future it won’t happen. At the moment these mainly seem to be available from people who make them by hand.. but what happens when demand outsrips supply? Cheap imitations will appear that may not conform to the standard already set. Additionally I am pretty sure that only BALTIC AMBER contains succinic acid which MAY have an analgesic effect. But what will the cheap imitations be? Because as this movement grows, because some celebrity put it on their kid (I like to think of it as Kardashian syndrome) more & more cheap crap that is a risk will flood the market sadly.. and it’s the people who use them to be like the Jones (or the Kardashians or whatever vacuous celebrity happens to have their kid using one) that will most likely suffer. Sure it hasn’t happened yet and I may be a pessimist, but it probably will happen. It’s called rampant consumerism and the almighty dollar.. where somebody sees a way to make a quick buck consequences be damned.

  25. I shared this on FB, and it’s amazing how many people say they use them because they noticed a difference, and even if they don’t work, they’re cute.

  26. Teila permalink

    Sounds like it still “works” while around the ankle…why not try it? I’ve heard lots of people share their own experiences in it helping their children within hours of using it. Honestly you should have a good eye on your children anyways and put it around their ankle instead of the neck and VOILA! Now you all can be happy. Chill out. If you want to pump your kids full of drugs then do it, if not, do nothing, or use amber necklaces and put it on their ankle. Jeez…

  27. Dana permalink

    My daughter has worn a teething necklace since she was 6 months old. I’ve always been skeptical of effects but thought, “what the hell, it’s cute anyways”. Yes, they do easily break but the beads are individually knotted on so when it breaks it stays as one piece (no beads scattering everywhere) and even if a bead did escape they are only the size of a pea at the largest- they can be swallowed without choking.

    • Dana, do you know what choking actually means? It’s not a case of an object becoming stuck in the oesophagus. It means that the object goes down the trachea instead of the oesophagus and interferes with breathing. Something the size of a pea can cause (and has caused) choking. If a baby inhales such an object through the mouth, it’s quite likely to go down the wrong way.

      • Dana permalink

        Well in that case I won’t even feed my baby- because even a sip of water can enter the lungs and interfere with breathing.

        I don’t think you need to harp on people about using common sense- there is being vigilant and there is being crazed. If you notice the necklace is gone/broken/unsafe in anyway check to see if there are missing beads and clean them up. The ones we have broken have all broken at the clasp- and even after the strand was played with for weeks, no beads were lost. If you feel this is an unsafe object then I urge you not to purchase one.
        BUT
        I challenge you to name an object in your house that, should it fall into disrepair, wouldn’t pose a threat to a child…..

        • Surely, Dana, the point is that those household objects would not be in constant close proximity to the child’s face, especially while sleeping. A sleeping child who inhales a small object will not get the opportunity to decide whether to spit it out, chew it or swallow it.

          • Dana permalink

            A sleeping child- where the bead happens to fall into their mouth out of nowhere and they take such a deep breath that they aspirate a pebble….seems highly coincidental, but I’ll give it to you- yes, that IS a risk.

            Again, I’ve never seen the beads fall off- even after the broken strand was played with, for WEEKS. I’d say it more likely they will aspirate a wad of fuzz from their clothing, or the drool that spews from their own mouth.
            It would be next to impossible for a sleeping baby to gather enough strength to break the necklace and the strand is too short for an arm to get stuck up in- so it is most likely the necklace would be broken during playtime and rough housing, where there is hopefully an adult supervising.

            I’m not disputing that the analgesic properties are far fetched… But I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill with the safety factor. Again, common sense should always be used- if your little he-man thrashes around wildly at night.. Then you probably want to remove the necklace before bedtime (which I believe is recommended in the instructions anyways). And, of course, if the necklace makes you cringe- don’t buy one. But I don’t think it’s fair to assume those who use them are negligent parents.
            You know what makes me cringe? Pacifiers, chewing gum, pierced ears on kids, and baby bikinis. And I have solid, factual reasons why….so guess what… I dont use any of those things and life goes on. If you happen to use them, that’s your problem…and I’m sure you’re still a delightful person despite, what I view as, bad choices. To each his own

      • Dana permalink

        At the risk of you slaughtering me: look up baby led weaning. It is the notion of feeding babies solid food as early as 6 mo (no spoon feeding, no mushed food). They first learn to chew and THEN learn to swallow. If my daughter shoved the entire necklace in her mouth, she would bite down realize its not edible and spit to out.
        While my lone experience is not a scientific study, at 18 months my daughter rarely puts non-food items in her mouth. Maybe I got lucky…maybe getting back to nature has its perks.

        • Yeah, I think you’re lucky. 99 percent of parents are lucky. The rule of thumb for choking hazards is anything that can fit in toilet roll tube. Nearly half of all choking deaths are from food and the rest are foreign objects. The choking on food risk lasts until they are about 4. “Training” your toddler may lull you into a false sense of security. I don’t let my 2 and half year old eat unsupervised. Hell, they can choke on food while you’re there holding her hand.
          There are many things around the house that a choking, strangulation or drowning risks that have nothing to do with how strong your child is and whether the child can break it or not. They don’t have to break something for it to catch on something and their own body weight strangle them. I was surprised how many babies drown every year in pet water bowls for example.
          It is crazy to leave any child unsupervised with any jewellery on purpose. I count sleeping as unsupervised. The ignorance, or stupidity, required to do this is astounding. But to each there own eh.

  28. Gwen permalink

    I must be the most irresponsible neglectful mother out there. My son has been given Bonjella, Panadol AND Nurofen to relieve tooth aches. Oh and he has a baltic amber necklace that is long enough for me to wear – he is now 2 years old but has had it from approximately 6 months. He doesn’t wear it all the time, especially not while he is sleeping, but he does wear it. When he did wear it while he was teething the drooling and pain didn’t stop completely but it did seem to ease a bit. Placebo effect or not, he thinks its pretty and enjoys wearing it. I’m not concerned about the amounts of the acid that could possibly be seeping into his body – and you contradict your argument that parents are irresponsible for that reason by saying there is no evidence to prove that any is actually released from the beads considering the high melting point, etc. I like the article but your argumentative comments and retorts (see “conspiracies” comment) just make me think you are extremely conceited. Congratulations you super smart and clearly more intelligent creature, you! Did you do thorough research on the toys your own children played with when they were little? Considering they are old enough to have children of their own, I’m going to assume they played with toys that have most definitely been pulled off the shelves for many reasons (choking hazards, amounts of lead and clearly dangerous toys such as spinning fairies that can take eyes out, etc. etc.) Perhaps you should be contacting Fair Trading and reporting the brands for False Advertisement instead of judging other people’s parenting methods? Some people aren’t as educated enough (or they are too busy) to look up all of these scientific research and facts. Campaign to change the advertising so that us people of the lower echelons don’t blindly go buying our children things that aren’t based on evidence and facts instead of assuming superiority over anonymous randoms on the Internet.

  29. Alex permalink

    This article is crap. If you have genuine Baltic amber and there are easy ways to test that. It does work. I’ve done my own experiments with it and needless to say I am more than satisfied. It’s people like the authors of this article that make mothers skeptical to use holistic treatments for fear of being mocked.

    • Nick permalink

      Thanks Alex. Can you please post a write up and findings of these ‘experiments’?
      I’d be very interested in reading through them.

  30. Trishana permalink

    I have used it with my daughter and it was brilliant. Before the amber beads she had fever, drooled, and diarrhea. Her teething time was 00:00 where she would cry none stop for 10-15mins which felt like an hour. It was like colic all over again. With the beads…everything stopped and she popped teeth like popcorn. I love it! She is 21 months old and still wears it diligently. It looks beautiful.

  31. I’ve been making a lot of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority here in New Zealand about amber teething products over the past year. 10 of them have been completed, and so far no advertiser has substantiated any therapeutic claim, leading to 3 of the complaints being upheld. In the remaining 7, the advertisers withdrew the claims before the complaint was upheld, so the complaints board considered those complaints settled.

    I’ve done my own write-up of the claims made about amber teething necklaces on my blog: http://honestuniverse.com/2013/02/13/amber-teething-necklaces/

    • This is a great effort Mark. It’s good to see you are having some success and that your work is making a difference in NZ.

  32. Jessica Hastie permalink

    Whether they are proven to work or not scientifically, if its a placebo or rooster effect, if any result is caused it is considered correlation, positive or negative. The safety concerns of beads breaking are no different than any tiny thing laying around the house, parents will use common sense (or I should say most parents;) when placing ANYTHING near their child. I was feeding my children BPA pumped breast milk for years as we didn’t know anything about it then. But we try to do the best for our babies. To each his own. Obviously if the necklace is a knockoff stay away, only get trusted Baltic amber. If its irritating your child’s skin, take it off. Pretty simple. There is one fact, besides the basic succinic acid one, that I would love to have someone play with. Is it possible that not only the necklace being Baltic amber, but just having the sensation from the skin contact anywhere from the beads(amber or not) could be distracting from the teething pain?

    • Amy permalink

      That seems pretty far fetched. I wear a necklace 24/7 and hardly notice it at all, it’s never distracted me from any level of pain, any more than any other item I maybe wearing. The safety concerns are actually quite different- something laying around the house vs something fastened about a baby’s neck. The succinic acid transmission is not a fact. The only factual thing about it is that this acid is found in amber. There is no evidence succinic acid is a suitable or effective pain treatment and plenty of evidence to prove that the way these necklaces are unposed to work is hogwash. Amber needs to be heated to over 100 degrees celcius to release anything at all.

  33. Kim Poole permalink

    What a load of utter crap!!! Very badly written one sided article with a massive feeling of complete hysteria. I take it you drive a car? How stupid and dangerous it is to get in a car with a baby, they might die in a car accident! I hope you don’t cross the road with a child? They might get hit by a car! Both these examples have more cases of ‘actual’ deaths but I bet it would t stop you doing it. Life is full of tiny risks, who are you to judge the risks (if they even are risks as your article hasnt proven that they are!!!) that people take with their children! Complete ignorance!

    • The difference, Kim, is that if you and your child want to live normal lives, there are no alternatives to travelling in vehicles or crossing the road. There are plenty of alternatives to amber necklaces that are less risky. Some of them even have scientific evidence on their side. But if you want to use a placebo remedy, I recommend using a less risky one.

    • AmyA permalink

      The point you’ve missed in your comparison is that there is an obvious benefit to car travel offsetting the risk.

      ***Science shows there is no benefit to the wearer of an amber teething necklace-but there is a risk***

      As parents, we all make our own risk assessments. Mine is this- there is no benefit to these necklaces therefore the risk (without debating the size of the risk) is unacceptable. I will not place a potential choking hazard around my child’s throat for, essentially, no reason. If you want to do so, go ahead. Your choice. If you want to take that risk for no actual gain, and cough up the bucks to do it- well, as the saying goes, a fool and his money are easily parted.

  34. Rosey permalink

    I agree this worked for my son too. I prefer natural remedies over medicine bought over the counter.

  35. Lonnie permalink

    Half of these comments got me worrying that people just put the necklace on their kid, and then ignore their kids symptoms. Like its a placebo for the parent and not the child.

    I have the distinct image (and some vague childhood memories) of parents giving their kids stuff, thinking it makes everything all better… and it doesnt at all, but they are so jaded from parenthood that they stop paying attention because they thinkg they fixed it.

  36. Mark permalink

    Greaham, your patients on this thread is saintly. Much better than I could do. The mental gymnastics, or “Double Think” that people go through to justify their viewpoint never ceases to amaze me. It can be seen on both sides of the line, and nowhere near a rational mind. Thanks for the article, and thanks for putting up with these nutters. Hopefully, you may have saved a life.
    Cheers mate.

  37. Mark permalink

    *Graham
    Sorry mate

  38. Ellen permalink

    All I can add is that with two kids we had two different teething experiences… One drooled like crazy (had to have his tonsils removed a few years later so that explained that one) but completely oblivious to teething. He had a dummy and would vigorously rub it against his gums every day. We didn’t realise he was teething until his teeth came out. Second child no dummy some fever and discomfort including bloody nappy rash even though she was always changed as soon as she soiled herself. Neither had amber (mind you my first child played with my vintage amber necklace one day and broke it) and very little drugs. I would try an amber teething ring if they were available but not a necklace way too dangerous.
    **I’d also question if most of the amber available for these necklaces was real? I own a number of Baltic amber pieces and they are extremely expensive (including smaller necklaces very much like the teething ones). I do know of practices where amber shavings are mixed with resin to produce an amber like product which is then mass produced and sold cheaply. I suspect most of the products sold are fake given the price.

    • For what it’s worth, I have noticed that a lot of New Zealand websites that sell Baltic amber teething jewellery attempt to address this problem by also containing information on how to test whether or not the product is made of real amber.

  39. Nicole permalink

    This article is a joke. All you have proven is that there is no science to confirm that this works or doesnt work. There have been zero studies, just because you don’t understand why it works doesn’t mean it doesnt. Maybe science needs to put together some studies so we can get some real results instead of saying there is no way this works! You are correct in saying that we dont know if there are any ill-effects..which is concerning. However, I can tell you countless drugs that have been “proven” safe at one time that are later determined are not.

  40. Margaret permalink

    Man you’ve got your work cut out for you Graham. All you said was there is no scientific evidence that these beads work and that they could be a choking or strangulation hazard. Parents can still use them if they want and I don’t think you are implying they are bad parents if they do, but it is very helpful to have someone go through the available evidence for touted treatments. Science is a good thing people – keep using amber if you feel it works for you. Don’t dis science or shoot the messenger here though. Science is the best tool we have to understand the world around us accurately.

  41. Anne Dall permalink

    Thankyou for your interesting, fact-based article, Graham, which I found After googling info on the subject for a friend. I admire your patience and logic demonstrated in your answers to those who “know” better and am amazed at their responses.I don’t understand the defensiveness and the personal affront taken. I find it quite depressing.

  42. Stacey permalink

    Has anyone considered what effects that the succinic acid has on the body, especially little ones? How the hell do you ppl know you’re not drugging or poisoning your kids?

  43. Shannon permalink

    I’m curious, has there ever been any reported deaths or strangulation caused by Amber teething necklaces? I personally would be much more concerned with my child having an adverse reaction from receiving a vaccine, which is FDA sealed stamped and approved as ‘safe,’ science approved (injecting toxic poisons into the bloodstream).

    I’ve used Amber necklaces on all my children, and not one of them broke or ever caused any negative issues. I also use homeopathic remedies for healing and I believe in preventative medicine. I also let my children play in and eat dirt, because I know it builds a healthy immunity!

    I believe in the healing properties of crystals, and the importance of using ‘food’ as our medicine, not drugs.

    • You might like to read the previous comments for replies to most of your points, Shannon, as well as the unreliability of anecdotal evidence.
      There have been many scientific studies on homeopathy. It doesn’t work any better than a placebo. You might believe that crystals have healing properties, but there is no evidence that they do, and no reason to suspect they would. Crystals are the natural result of electrostatic bonding forces that control the arrangement of atoms within substances. There is nothing magical about them.

  44. Michael permalink

    Our daughter is teething and it has been a rough couple of days with a lot of pain and a lot of drool. My wife had received a necklace from a friend and she was considering trying it but looking at it I became nervous of choking and strangulation. I said to give our baby one more night and if things were still bad we could try the necklace the next day.

    This morning our daughter is doing great, no drool, no pain, very giggly. Had we put on the necklace our experience probably would have led us to believe that it worked. Instead, as everyone says, the teeth go up and down and the baby will have painful days and not painful days.

    I know that there will be rough days ahead but at least I’m not tricking myself into thinking something is magically working.

  45. travmathes permalink

    Graham,

    You definitely have no kids of your own by reading all of your stupid comments to others after they have *all* gave you a testimony of how it works for their child. I personally just purchased one myself for my daughter, which I have no received yet, but if you had kids of your own- you would understand that you want to do everything possible to help them with all the pain and discomfort it causes them when teething. Get off the “scientology” bull sh!t and just realize that people are just doing what they can to help out their children. If it works that’s great, if not oh well. Seeing how you shoot people down after they specifically say it DOES indeed work for their child is ignorant and seems as if your just mad the “science” was proved wrong (which it is time in and time out)

    • I have three children and five grandchildren. Seven of them survived teething quite happily without resort to amber necklaces or any other magical remedies. The eighth has not yet started teething, but I’m pretty sure she won’t be subjected to any either.

      “Scientology”?!?!?! Where does that come into it?

      Update 2014/07/16: The youngest grandchild’s first tooth has just appeared. It’s well though the gum, and it’s obviously been through for quite a few days. The parents were surprised when they found it – there had been no unusual behaviour or symptoms.

    • Jacqui permalink

      Hahaha. All credibility lost with the Scientology accusation.

      If people were doing everything they could to help their children they wouldn’t be attaching portable choking hazards to their bodies. You can truly help your children by being skeptical of what’s marketed to them and for them, and by teaching them the importance of critical thinking. In the past, people offered testimonials about the benefits of bloodletting with leeches over thousands of years. By your logic, sticking a few leeches to your kids is ok because it seems to have worked for so many others who have produced anectodal evidence over the past 2000 years.
      This one could possibly also fall under the appeal to nature fallacy, which has been more damaging than ever lately.

      People really do hate when their flawed beliefs are challenged.

    • Joe permalink

      Are you stupid? What’s wrong with teething gel? As a father of two, I would rather apply a very small dose of a well recognised analgaesic directly to the gums than risk any chance of death by strangulation or choking.

  46. I agree with Mark. My granddaughter was having a tough time teething, drooling, pain and red cheeks. The amber necklace has stopped the drooling and red cheeks and has helped a great deal with the pain. She didn’t wear the necklace for a few days and the red cheeks and drooling started up again.

    This works for my granddaughter and that’s all I care about. My daughter in law is from Mongolia. Her mother used amber necklaces on her and her sisters when they were teething.

    Perhaps science hasn’t preformed the proper tests to prove this works.

  47. Shaz permalink

    This article is cute but lacks reliable sources. Research more and patronise less THEN put the word science in your URL.

  48. Dawn permalink

    My three youngest have worn these from onset of teething. It definitely reduced the drooling, and acidic poops. We have never had safety issues, it’s worn mostly under their clothes and they don’t even realize its on them. You worry about choking hazard if the strand breaks as it should….but there is a knot between each bead so that at most the child would put one bead on their mouth. It is too small to obstruct their airway should they swallow it.

  49. Monica permalink

    I originally bought the necklace for a 8 month old for teething. But when it came the 4 year old wanted to “try them on” So I let her. She is past the teething stage but has suffered with terrible growing pains at night The first night she wore them she slept thru the night without waking once or a single whimper. Now you can’t claim the placebo effect here because I didn’t expect any thing to happen and neither did she, she was just wearing a necklace for awhile. was it a fluk? I don’t think so, She has continued to wear them for 6 months now and has continued to sleep pain free every night. From a medical perspective, her pediatric Dr. was thrilled to see them around her neck. I of course had to get another necklace for the 8 month old and we have seen wonderful results with teething. matter of fact she wasn’t teething when we put them on and didn’t even know when she was til teeth appeared. As far as choking, the beads are too small to cause a choking hazard. And as far as a strangle hazard, there are a lot more things that they encounter on a day to day basis that I would consider more of a hazard than their necklaces. And I would much rather they wear a simple necklace around their neck than poke OTC drugs in them to ease their pain. To each their own, but these work for us and we love them!

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