Amber for Teething Update

The first post I wrote for Skeptoid was on the topic of amber teething beads – a pretty silly and potentially infant killing piece of woo. At that point, I had been in contact with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority who had upheld my complaint that:

“The suggestion that amber, when in contact with the skin, breaks down sufficiently that “healing oils” can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream in any appreciable amount is clearly a nonsense. Therefore, the claim that these amber necklaces can ” assist with alleviating pain and will provide assistance with restlessness, irritability and acidity.” is demonstrably false. Further, these items are not recommended for children under 36 months, an age by which, for the majority of children, the worst of teething is over. These products pose a significant choking, strangulation and even hanging risk to babies and toddlers made to wear them and should be banned outright.
The claims that “Recent scientific research has also proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence, it strengthens the body, improves immunity and the balance of acids,” is a lie. Indeed, some studies have shown that succinic acid actually inhibits the function of certain cells involved in immune responses.”

Though the site I complained about largely complied with the ASA’s determination that amber teething beads be marketed on and “availability only” basis, they still made vague claims that amber teething beads “really work.” Based on the fact that no mechanism proposed for their efficacy in relieving even the most trivial of teething issues could be substantiated, how, I wondered, could they “really work,” and how, in any meaningful sense could they be described as teething beads? With these thoughts in mind, I shot off another complaint to the ASA. That, too, was upheld. A precedent has been set that amber beads/jewellery cannot be advertised as a teething product. If you spot any companies doing so in the UK please make a formal complaint to the ASA  or drop me a line here and I’ll get onto it. Happy New Year!

 

 

Leave a Reply

  1. Interesting article, a quick search on Yahoo.co.uk produces pages of websites selling amber for teething. I’ve included some here for you to have a look at if you want. Looks like you could have a full time job on your hands, One at least mentions an EU directive on the subject, but lots don’t seem to know about it.

    The trouble is with so many small time online traders around now and with so many rules and regs in place I’m not really surprised that there’s loads of people who seem to be un-aware of the ASA or EU requirements.

    http://www.naturesmother.co.uk/baby_amber_teething_necklaces.html

    http://amber-teething-necklaces.co.uk/

    Located in the EU but selling in the UK: http://www.babyamberteething.co.uk/

    Another sceptics view: http://scepticon.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/amber-teething-beads-a-few-points-to-consider/

    Might be worth a comment on this forum?: http://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/children-parenting-190/child-health-safety-first-aid-62/90910-amber-teething-necklace-3.html

    These guys get it: http://www.amberpumpkin.com/amber-teething-necklaces.html

    Loads of offers on Ebay and not a warning between them as far as I can see: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_nkw=amber+teething+necklace

    Most of the sampled Amazon sellers say not for under 36 months which is good. Amazon are generally more on the ball with problems such as this and may well have alerted their traders.

  2. I’ve submitted a similar complaint to New Zealand’s ASA regarding amber teething necklaces, hoping to set a useful precedent that I’ll be able to use to make further complaints. Just wanted to let you know that it was your previous post that motivated me to do more research on the topic and file that complaint.

    I’ll be putting up a post on amber teething necklaces and the problems with how their purveyors claim they work on my own blog soon.

    • a) there is NO evidence it works; and b) potentially lethal to babies and toddlers if broken or loose beads are inhaled, or if a necklace gets caught it may cause strangulation. An extremely high risk piece of children’s jewelry for no health benefit.