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Amber Teething Necklaces - Suspect SIDS 'Warning'

Circulating social media message makes a connection between SIDS and amber teething necklaces. The message cites a case in which the SIDS related death of a baby in NSW was found by the coroner to be associated with use of the necklaces.

Child with amber teething necklace

Brief Analysis
The SIDS related claims in the message remain unsubstantiated and are likely to be unfounded. In 2011, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury issued a warning to the public in relation to amber teething necklaces noting that they could break into small parts and present a choking hazard to young children. However the warning makes no mention of SIDS. Nor could I find any credible news or medical reports that state that the necklaces have been explicitly connected to any SIDS related death in Australia. Some SIDS websites have published David Bradbury's notice as a general warning to parents, and this may have caused some readers to make unfounded assumptions about a supposed connection between SIDS and use of the amber teething necklaces.

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Amber Teething Neclace Sids Warning

a 10 month old baby has just died from SIDS on the central coast in NSW & the coroner has put the cause of SIDS down to amber teething necklaces. I encourage anyone that has one to around their babies necks to take them off asap! get a bracelet one or an anklet! XX

Detailed Analysis
According to a message currently circulating via social media websites, the recent death of a baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) has been connected to the use of amber teething necklaces. The message claims that the coroner identified the death of the NSW central coast baby as being due to SIDS caused by use of an amber necklace. The message urges parents to stop using the necklaces due to the SIDS related danger.

However, the SIDS related claims in the warning remain unsubstantiated and appear to be without foundation. I have so far found no credible news or medical reports that describe the SIDS related death of an infant due to use of amber teething necklaces. Nor have I seen any reports that list the use of amber teething necklaces as even a possible causative factor for SIDS.

That said, use of the necklaces has been identified as being potentially dangerous to young children although not because of any SIDS related factors. In September 2011, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury issued a warning notice to the public in relation to amber teething necklaces. The warning notes:

Particulars of goods
Amber teething necklaces and bracelets consist of amber beads which are a fossilised tree resin and range In colour from yellow to white and beige to brown. The products are sold by a range of suppliers under a variety of names. Suppliers claim that when worn close to the skin, succinic acid will be released by the amber beads to relieve the symptoms of teething. Some suppliers also make claims for other conditions Including eczema and asthma.

Possible risks
Testing of several of these products Indicates that they can release small parts which could result in choking hazards to children under three. Although most suppliers state that the product is not Intended for mouthing, there Is a risk that parents could be contused since many other 'teething' products are Intended to be placed Inside the child's mouth. It Is also likely that unsupervised teething infants wearing amber teething necklaces or bracelets will mouth or chew the product. The therapeutic claims made by some suppliers for these products may also delay a parent from seeking medical attention for their child In a timely way.

Advice to consumers
Consumers using this product are advised to:
• always supervise the Infant when wearing the necklace or bracelet
• remove the necklace or bracelet when the Infant is unattended, even If it is only for a short period of time
• remove the necklace or bracelet while the Infant sleeps at day or night
• not allow the Infant to mouth or chew the necklace or bracelet
• consider using alternate forms of pain relief
• seek medical advice If you have concerns about your child's health and well being.

Notice that the warning makes no mention of SIDS. It is possible that an incorrect association between SIDS and the use of the necklaces has come about because David Bradbury's warning was published as a general warning to parents on SIDS and Kids websites. In its article discussing the warning, SIDS and Kids makes no connection between use of the necklaces and SIDS. Nor is use of the necklaces cited as a possible causative factor elsewhere on the website.

Thus, in its current form, this would-be warning is inaccurate and potentially misleading. However, given David Bradbury's warning on the issue, the suggestion in the message that parents and guardians avoid use of amber teething rings is nevertheless well worth heeding.

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Last updated: March 1, 2013
First published: March 1, 2013
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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Product Safety Australia - Warning notice to public issued in relation to Amber teething necklaces
Consumer Protection Notice No. 35 of 2011