While there is no evidence that Baltic Amber Necklaces are beneficial to infants, unscrupulous marketeers are taking advantage of parents concerns for their children with practiced ease.
So-called Baltic Amber necklaces are marketed towards parents of teething infants as an ‘all natural’ treatment for teething pain, despite there being no evidence that they’re effective in any way. For readers not familiar with the “appeal to nature” it is an argument commonly used in advertising, marketing and empty rhetoric. Whenever you find a claim that a product or service is good, beneficial, and safe solely because it is ‘natural’, what you are seeing is the appeal to nature in action. We are expected to not realise that most natural things are dangerous e.g.: poison ivy, snake venom, UV radiation, serial killers, hemlock, bee stings, lightning; you get the point.
We’re also expected to believe that tying anything around a babies neck is ‘natural’, despite this aberrant behavior rarely occurring in nature for obvious reasons. As I’ve said previously, it’s difficult to see how tying tree resin around someone’s throat can be considered ‘natural’, but then I’m safely outside the target market.
As for the supposed mechanism that allows Amber to heal it’s infant wearer, we’re told the warmth of a babies skin is enough to allow ‘natural oils’ to be released into the child’s skin. Note here that what is claimed to be released is not called a chemical as this more accurate definition has negative connotations in certain circles, particularly the demographic targeted.
The claim that an infants skin generates enough warmth to leach chemicals from the amber has been dismissed by Chemistry professor at New Zealand’s Otago University, Alan Blackman, who advised
“You have to heat amber to over 200degC in order to be able to get any volatiles out of it, so I find that quite unlikely.”
Volatile is an interesting choice of words considering that Succinic acid (the ‘natural oil’ contained in Baltic Amber) is combustible and corrosive, capable of causing burns in a high enough concentration. However incredibly small amounts are found in the human body and in plants. It is most commonly used in the food and beverage industry as food additive #363 to be precise. Ironically there are recommendations from some quarters to avoid the substance.
The majority of websites I searched also went no further than claiming that their products ‘were reputed to improve health and wellbeing’, rather than going all out and saying that they do improve health and wellbeing.
This is no accident, merely an attempt to hedge bets in the off chance that evidence of effectiveness is ever called into question.
Those sites that do address safety concerns advise that the necklaces are knotted in such a way as to only release one bead in the event the jewellery snaps.
Assuming it would take more than one beads to choke, this would be comforting.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the reason it was not common until quite recently to see babies with things tied around their neck is that it in an obvious health hazard. Yet parents with an upset child will do anything to protect their child from harm and it’s this evolutionary imperative that is taken advantage of by the purveyors of this nonsense.
So given that any necklaces have the potential to cause great harm to an infant, that there is no evidence at all that these necklaces do what they are claimed to do, given that strangulation and choking are infinitely more harmful than teething, given that teething IS a natural process while bejeweling our young is not, AND given that a baby would have to have a temperature approaching 200 degrees Celsius for the amber to release anything, it’s safe to say that Baltic Amber jewellery is nothing more than the latest in a long, long line of scam products targeting vulnerable parents with nothing but the best interests of their children at heart.
Jayson D Cooke