Posts Tagged ‘ teething ’

Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces Could Pose Choking Hazard

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Baltic amber teething necklaces, which have been in high demand among fashion-conscious moms since model Gisele Bündchen posted a photo last summer of one of the necklaces on her baby, may pose a serious choking hazard, according to a group of bloggers and doctors who are working to get the message out about the necklaces’ dangers.  More from The New York Times:

Baltic amber necklaces, as they are known, have become popular as an alternative treatment to ease teething pain in infants and toddlers in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and, increasingly, the United States. Retailers claim that when warmed by the baby’s body temperature, the amber releases a pain-relieving substance that is then absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.

But there is no evidence to back up these claims, and a larger concern is the significant suffocation hazard posed by the teething necklaces, particularly if children are left unattended.

“The risk is two-fold — strangulation and choking,” said Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., who has blogged about the dangers of amber necklaces. “And that’s not only for these teething necklaces. In general practice, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that infants wear any jewelry.”

In 2010, Health Canada, the country’s federal department of public health, determined that the necklaces were enough of an issue to warrant a consumer product safety warning that highlighted the strangulation risk. France and Switzerland have banned sale of the necklaces in pharmacies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suffocation is the leading cause of death for children under a year old and among the top five causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.

Vendors of Baltic amber necklaces commonly advertise that the necklaces are safe because the string is knotted between each individual bead, so if the necklace breaks only one piece will fall off. But one loose bead is enough for a child to choke on, said Dr. Isabelle Claudet, head of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital in Toulouse, France. And because the necklaces are produced and sold by smaller vendors, the lack of manufacturing standards makes it impossible to guarantee that any safety clasps will come apart as intended if the necklace becomes caught on anything, increasing the potential for strangulation.

Image: Amber beaded jewelry, via Shutterstock

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FDA Issues Warning About Teething Gels

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The numbing agent in a number of gels designed to ease the pain of teething can be dangerous or even fatal to babies, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.  CNN.com has more:

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that’s in products like Anbesol, Orajel & Baby Orajel, Orabase and Hurricaine. The FDA says using benzocaine products to stop mouth and gum pain can cause a rare and sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder where the oxygen that’s carried through the blood to the tissue drops to dangerously low levels. In severe cases it can cause death.

The FDA first sounded the alarm on these products in 2006. Since then there have been 29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia. FDA pharmacist Kellie Taylor says 19 of those cases were in children, 15 of those 19 were children under the age of 2.

The agency issued another warning in 2011. Some of the symptoms to look for include pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips and fingernail beds, shortness of breath, headache, light-headedness and rapid heart rate.

“Symptoms can occur within minutes to hours after benozcaine use,” says FDA Pharmacist Mary Ghods said. “They can occur after using the drug for the first time, as well as after several uses.”

Image: Teething baby, via Shutterstock.

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