Pediatric ER Nurse Warning: Amber Beads for Teething Relief

Working in a pediatric ER, you see parents do lots of curious things. In the last three months or so, I began seeing a fair number of infants come in with these beaded amber necklaces around their necks.

One of the main goals in nursing is accident and death prevention. That’s why we talk about using helmets and wearing your seatbelt. Honestly, some of us would like to see trampolines outlawed because they are responsible for so many childhood injuries.

We also don’t like to see anything around a child’s neck that would pose a risk for strangulation. Things like this would include wearing a sling at night. We generally don’t recommend this for concern that the child may get caught up in it and get strangled to death. 

The first time I saw these beaded necklaces– I was surprised at how heavy they were. I asked the mother why the child was wearing them.
She said, “Oh, they’re for teething.”

Hmmm.

I explained my concern to her that I thought they posed a significant strangulation hazard and whatever perceived benefit they had for teething pain would not outweigh this risk in my mind.

And she promptly removed them.
But now I see many infants coming in and wearing these so I thought it was time to blog about my concern for these infants’ safety. 
 These amber beads seem to have originated in Europe where the claim is that when the beads are warmed up by the infants skin, they give off a pain relieving substance that is absorbed through the skin.  
This article provides an excellent overview of how these claims are categorically false. 
In fact, Health Canada issued a safety warning about the risk of these amber beaded necklaces use in children and France and Switzerland don’t allow them to be sold in pharmacies. 
This article highlights a near miss of a toddler who became entangled in her necklace while she napped. 
Point being– nothing should ever be placed around your child’s neck regardless of any claims for perceived health benefits. 

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