Amber teething necklaces: Is there any basis to their use in teething infants?

Nissen, Michael, Lau, Esther T.L., Nissen, Lisa M., & Steadman, Kathryn J. (2015) Amber teething necklaces: Is there any basis to their use in teething infants? In APSA-ASCEPT Joint Scientific Meeting 2015, 29 November - 2 December 2015, Hobart, TAS. (Unpublished)


Introduction. Baltic amber-bead necklaces or bracelets are commonly used for managing teething symptoms in infants. The effectiveness of these beads is claimed to be from succinic acid release (a compound said to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties), which is then absorbed through the skin.

Aims. To investigate whether succinic acid is contained in Baltic amber teething necklaces purchased in Australia, whether it can be released from the beads, and whether it has anti-inflammatory activity.

Methods. Infrared spectroscopy was used to confirm that the teething necklaces were made of Baltic amber. The amount of succinic acid contained within the beads was quantified, and succinic acid release from intact beads was measured in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) pH 5.5 or octanol. Anti-inflammatory activity of succinic acid was compared with ibuprofen, paracetamol and hydrocortisone in vitro using THP-1 human macrophages stimulated with LPS. Secretion of the cytokines IL-1a, IL-1b, IL-8 and TNF-α were determined by ELISA.

Results. Each necklace (33 beads in length) contained 19.17 ± 4.89 mg of succinic acid (mean ± se). Over a 6-month period, no succinic acid was detected in PBS. While 0.13 ± 0.09 mg of succinic acid per necklace was released in octanol, this was due to only one replicate of amber beads which had fragmented into shards free-floating in the solvent. Succinic acid had no effect on cytokine secretion unless extremely high concentrations were used and changes were likely to be associated with cell apoptosis and death.

Discussion. No evidence for anti-inflammatory activity was found in the cytokines studied. It is possible that succinic acid could exert an effect via some other mechanism, but while the teething necklaces do contain small quantities of succinic acid, it is highly unlikely to be released from intact beads.

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ID Code: 91879
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 15 Jan 2016 00:48
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2016 06:00

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