FDA tells parents not to use teething jewelry after strangulation death of 18-month-old

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The FDA issued a warning on Thursday (Dec. 20) to parents about using teething jewelry to help soothe teething pain. (Tarzhanova)

The Food and Drug Administration is alerting parents to possible dangers caused by teething jewelry after an 18-month old boy died from strangulation.

The FDA said parents should not use the jewelry, which is often given to special needs adults or children to provide sensory stimulation or to infants to relieve teething pain. The beads of jewelry are most often made of amber, wood, marble or silicone and are worn as necklaces or bracelets.

On average, children begin teething around four to seven months and have a total of 20 “baby teeth” by age 3, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teething can cause mild irritability, a low-grade fever, drooling and the urge to chew on something hard.

Use of the jewelry to assist with teething could “lead to strangulation, choking, serious injuries, or death,” the FDA said, adding that the “safety and effectiveness of teething jewelry to treat teething pain and/or provide sensory stimulation have not been established.”

“We’re concerned about the risks we’ve observed with these products and want parents to be aware that teething jewelry puts children, including those with special needs, at risk of serious injury and death,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.

The alert comes after the FDA received a report of an 18-month old child who was strangled to death by his amber teething necklace during a nap. The agency received a separate report of a 7-month-old child who choked on the beads of a wooden teething bracelet while being watched by their parents and had to be taken to the hospital.

The FDA advised people with questions about reducing teething pain to talk to their doctor. Other suggestions included gently rubbing or massaging gums with a clean finger or giving the child a teething ring that is made of firm rubber and supervising the child during its use. Topical medications, including prescription or over-the-counter creams and gels or homeopathic teething tablets are not recommended.

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