A child ended up developing dangerous lead levels from a homeopathic bracelet. Learn what's safe—and what's not—to avoid lead poisoning.
A 9-month-old baby from Manchester, Connecticut, developed lead poisoning from a homemade bracelet her parents purchased at a local fair. According to Scary Mommy, a routine blood test at her doctor's office revealed her anemia and high blood lead level. Actually, an extremely concerning lead level: over eight times the safe limit. Her level was found to be 41 μg/dL, and the acceptable upper limit is 5 μg/dL.
An investigation would reveal that although the infant lived in a home built in 1926 and two interior window wells had peeling lead-based paint, the real source of the lead poisoning was the handmade bracelet, which the baby wore less than half a dozen times. (Since the baby wasn't yet mobile and her siblings didn't develop lead poisoning, doctors tested the bracelet and found shockingly high levels of lead in the spacer beads.)
Parents spoke to pediatricians Jennifer Haile and Patricia Garcia from the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, and who wrote a report about the case. They wanted to clarify that the bracelet was not intended for teething: The parents were told it was a homeopathic healing bracelet. But bracelets cannot be homeopathic like a medication can be, so the bracelet was misadvertised to the parents, a big red flag that it wasn't safe.
Garcia ultimately cautions against using jewelry of any kind with small children, as it can present a choking hazard.
She adds even a small exposure can result in pretty serious lead poisoning. The child in the report wore the bracelet fewer than six times! But that was enough, as the small spacer beads on the bracelet tested positive for high levels of lead. Unfortunately, the vendor who sold the bracelet to the parents could not be located.
We asked the doctors to share tips on how to avoid lead poisoning in kids. "The way you get lead in your system is by ingesting it," Haile told us. "Those things tend to be lead-based paint, dust, and soil." A lesser-known hazard parents need to be aware of? Yes, jewelry.
The big takeaway: Speak to your pediatrician before giving anything to your child, including a homeopathic remedy.
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For teething-related discomfort, safe teething alternatives include a teething ring, but not one with liquid inside, because it can break. Also:
- Do not use teething necklaces or bracelets because they can be choking hazards.
- Stay away from Orajel and homeopathic teething tablets.
- Do not freeze teething toys because ice pieces can damage gums.
- Use a clean cloth with cold water, the safest remedy for teething.