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If you are the parent or caregiver of a teething child, you may want to think twice about offering them a teething necklace, bracelet or other jewelry. The FDA has issued a warning against using the products, saying they could lead to strangulation, choking, serious injuries or death.
Though often marketed for relieving teething pain, teething jewelry can lead to choking, according to the FDA. If the jewelry breaks, small beads or even the entire piece of jewelry end up in the child’s throat or airway.
The warning comes after the FDA received multiple reports of death and serious injuries, including strangulation and choking, caused by necklaces and bracelets. In one, a 7-month-old choked on the beads of a wooden teething bracelet while under adult supervision. The baby was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
In another report, an amber teething necklace strangled an 18-month-old child to death during a nap.
“Strangulation can happen if a necklace is wrapped too tightly around the child’s neck or if the necklace catches on an object such as a crib,” the FDA wrote in its warning.
The warning also includes people with special needs, such as autism or ADHD, and their caregivers, who might be using the jewelry to provide sensory stimulation or redirect chewing on other objects.
Teething jewelry consists of various materials, such as amber, wood, marble or silicone. The FDA says it has not yet established the safety and effectiveness of these products. The agency also noted that the warning only applies to teething jewelry, not teething rings or teethers. Those are made of hard plastic or rubber and are held, not worn, by an adult or child.
If you currently have a child experiencing teething pain, the FDA says to not use the jewelry. Instead, either gently rub or massage your child’s gums with a clean finger or give them a teething ring made of firm rubber. Just be sure not to freeze the teething ring, as it can hurt your child’s gums if it is too hard.
The FDA also recommends avoiding teething creams, benzocaine gels, sprays, ointments, solutions and lozenges for mouth and gum pain as they can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood is reduced.
If your child has experienced an injury while using teething jewelry, the FDA would like you to file a report, either by calling 800-FDA-1088 or via their MedWatch program online. Include the brand name, manufacturer’s name and details of what happened.