Are amber necklaces a cure for teething babies or plain bunkum?


Their mums believe it is a miracle worker, a magic cure for their drooling and grumpy children, while health and child safety authorities say the necklaces not only have no therapeutic benefits but are choking and strangulation hazards. Rachel Clark's children's store Rainbow Tree, in Kensington Park, has stocked amber for six years but says in the past 18 months sales have soared.

 "It took a while to have enough people out there using them, but now they've become mainstream," she said. "I sell several pieces a day.

"Ms Clark said the jewellery was made from fossilised Baltic amber that contained succinic acid, which was released when in contact with the skin.Science may not be able to explain it but mums everywhere sing its praises.

Coromandel Valley mother-of-three Lydia Johnson, 25, bought her son, Wilfred, a necklace and put it around his neck when he was three weeks old.

"Lots of my friends had used them and I'd heard good things," she said.She says she can see differences between Wilfred, 10 months, and her two elder daughters, Norah, 3, and Molly, 4, who didn't wear amber when they were babies.

"I can't say if that's the necklace or not but if I had to compare him with my other children, he's very laid back and less trouble," she said.

"What really sold it to me was when he was three months old, he had a bath and I took it off and forgot to put it back on.

"He had a terrible night. He was restless and couldn't settle properly. It wasn't until the morning I realised and put it back on and then he was back to normal."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled in 2011 that manufacturers could no longer claim any therapeutic benefit from the jewellery. The Federal Government also issued a public warning that the necklaces could present a choking hazard to children.

Ms Clark said the necklaces she stocked complied with safety standards: each amber piece is individually knotted to prevent choking and is designed to break under pressure to prevent strangulation.