BabyRoX wears a necklace sometimes. It’s a Baltic amber teething necklace. I get asked about it all. the. time. People ask me if it has special meaning. Or if it’s a thug chain. (?! Y’all crack me up.) Other parents who know about the amber teething necklaces ask me if it works. So here’s a little post about a.) what an amber teething necklace is and b.) if it works.
I tend to approach most of my parenting choices with a mix of lots of research, lots of anecdotes from other parents, and a little bit of “if it doesn’t hurt to try it, and it might help, then why not?”… and I ultimately make a decision based on my intuition. It’s a powerful thing, intuition. I think it gets even stronger when you become a mom. Really. I have no evidence to support this claim, just personal experience. But it’s my blog post and I say so.
Anyhow, the amber teething necklace is supposed to help with the pain, inflammation, and general irritability of teething. Amber, and Baltic amber most specifically, contains succinic acid. Your body also produces succinic acid and it works as an anti-inflammatory. The theory is that when you wear amber against your skin, the succinic acid is leached into the skin and helps reduce inflammation. There is one study that shows it also reduces stress-induced temperatures in mice. But there aren’t many studies about Baltic amber or succinic acid in general. Lots of people in Lithuania swear by it, though. And lots of moms recommended the teething necklace to me.
Point of note: the necklace is NOT meant to be chewed on. BabyRoX couldn’t chew on it because it’s not even long enough for him to get it into his mouth. The necklace is meant to break easily in case he ever gets it caught on something while wearing it, and each bead is individually knotted so that they don’t all scatter everywhere/land in his mouth and choke him if the necklace ever does break. And of course I keep an eye on him when he’s wearing it, so he’s not in great danger.
Ok, back to the research. Like I said, there isn’t much. Here are the studies some other lady found in response to this blog post expressing doubt as to whether the necklaces work (she makes a lot of valid points, so I recommend reading that post… I like hearing from all sides, even if I don’t agree with everything):
i) Gough, L. J. & Mills, J. S. (1972).
‘The composition of succinite (Baltic amber)’. Nature 239: 527-528. (doi:10.1038/239527a0)
ii) Mills, J. S., White, R. & Gough, L. J. (1984)
‘The chemical composition of Baltic amber’. Chemical Geology 47, 15-39.
iii) Alexander P. Wolfe, Ralf Tappert, Karlis Muehlenbachs, Marc Boudreau, Ryan C. McKellar, James F Basinger and Amber Garrett. (2009).
‘A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic Amber’. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences 276: 3403-3412
iv) Si Wei Chen, Qin Xin, Wei Xi Kong, Li Min, & Jing Fang Li. (2003)
‘Anxiolytic-like effect of succinic acid in mice’.
Life Sciences 73: 3257-3264
v) Davidson, P. Michael, Sofos, John N., Branen, Alfred Larry (eds). (2005).
‘Antimicrobials in Food: Third Edition.’
Taylor & Francis
vi) Xu, Jun, & Guo, Bao-Hua.
‘Microbial Succinic Acid, its polymer Poly(butylene succinate), and applications’. Page 347 in Chen, Guo-Qiang (ed) (2010)
‘Plastics from Bacteria. Natural Functions and applications’.
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
So, that’s about it. Not enough to make a truly educated decision on whether the necklaces work. So I decided to try it. BabyRoX had one tooth come through without the necklace. The other three have come in with the necklace being worn. He’s also been significantly less fussy with those three. That could be attributed to a number of things: he’s more used to teething, they just didn’t bother him as much, etc. Or the necklace could help. I have no way of knowing. But since it isn’t causing any harm and doesn’t bother him, and there’s a chance it might be helping, and – hey, I think it looks cute! – I’ll keep putting it on him when additional teeth start to come in. I have hunch the necklace is helping. I’m gonna go with it.
Questions? Comments? Shoot!