Baby’s First Strangulation Hazard
Hello gnathostomes! If you want to sell something, an excellent way is to use our base desires against us. Let’s face it, we aren’t exactly rational when it comes to them. That’s why sex sells. However, there’s something even more effective than appealing to our instinct to procreate, and that’s appealing to the instinct to take care the result of it. Parents are willing to spend a lot of money and/or energy if they think it in some way protects or helps their child. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing. We wouldn’t be here without it. But it’s also easily exploited. Alt-med idiots knows this. Just look at the antivax movement, or the horrific industry that is autism “cures”. Both of those are a bit dark though, so instead, let’s look at a product marketed at parents that could potentially kill babies! How do amber teething necklaces work? Oh no you don’t! No spoilers! I’m not going to give away the rest of the video just because you ask a rhetorical question in the first two seconds. I’m not debunking anything before you give me some Stupid™ to work with here. Hi! I’m Lucy, on behalf of Toogli Baby Products, and today I’ll be sharing with you how Batlic amber teething necklaces work… Hello! I’m MicroBlogganism, on behalf myself, and I will be debunking amber teething necklaces and showing how you and your employers don’t know shit about amber, the human body, or baby skin. … to help babies and new parents deal with the pain and discomfort of teething. Neither of which are actually that bad. Since teething usually starts when the child is around 6 months old, we can’t exactly ask them how they feel. But using the power statistics, it turns out that while parents will blame nearly anything from fever to diarrhea on it, in reality getting your baby teeth was probably no more painful or uncomfortable than getting your permanent ones. It also doesn’t last nearly as long as some parents seem to think. Each tooth takes about a week to emerge, and it takes around 2 years for all 20 of them to do so. If you do the math, that’s an average of just under 1 week a month. Baltic amber, also known as succinate,… No, also known as succinite. Succinate is the anion of succinic acid, the compound you are going to claim to be responsible for all the supposed healing amazingness of amber. … is a complex fossilized resin formed from the soft, sticky sap of the trees from the Baltic region of Europe over 44 million years ago. That’s one of the few true things in this video. Back in the Eocene, most of what is now the Baltic sea (i.e. this part of Europe) wasn’t a sea, but dry land with large coniferous forests on it. All those trees in those forests produced a lot of resin, some of which fossilized and turned into an estimated 100 000+ tonnes of amber. For centuries, amber has been appreciated for its colour and natural beauty… That’s one of the other few true things in the video. Amber was, and still is, treated as gemstone because, well, it’s pretty. Doesn’t make it magical, though. … and been recognized throughout many parts of the world as a natural healing agent. Good for them, I guess. Too bad there’s no evidence for it. Oh, and in case anyone is playing Fallacy Bingo, you can tick off ‘appeal to nature’ and ‘appeal to popularity’. The healing power of amber is attributed to the fact that it contains 8% succinate acid… Well, up to 8%. It can be as low as 3. Those percentages, by the way, are by weight. You kind of forgot to mention that. Now, as you already sort of implied, it’s not found in all amber. The chemical composition of a piece of amber depends on what tree the resin came from and the geology of the area it formed in. Succinic acid is only found in subclass Ia amber, which includes Baltic amber. That’s where its science name “succinite” comes from. Amusingly, at least to dorks like me, the word “succinic” comes from the Latin “succinum”, meaning amber. … a gentle, but important, biochemical compound found in the cells of the human body… It is indeed found in the body, although mostly in the form of succinate. And, yes, I will agree that it’s important. Succinate is involved in a number of processes, including the super-important citric acid cycle, one of the metabolic pathways in cellular respiration. But ermm… how can a compound be gentle? What exactly does that mean? Are you trying to say that it’s relatively nontoxic? Because it is. Also since we’re already are asking questions, how is being gentle in contrast with being important? … which improves health and metabolism. Okaaay? Again, what do you mean by that? Saying it improves health and metabolism isn’t useful. The terms are so general and vague that it doesn’t tell us anything. The health of what? Which metabolic pathways? You could replace them with “makes you all better and stuff” and it wouldn’t change a thing. So how does amber help with teething? Simple. The instinctual desire of parents to help and protect their children, confirmation bias towards the belief that this will help said children, and possibly a little sunk cost fallacy work together to make parents think that it’s working. Okay, maybe “simple” wasn’t the right word. But that is how it “works”. It’s all in the parents’ heads. People like you have told them it works, they believe it will work, and due to cognitive biases, perceive that it does. Probably also helps that they are likely to be sleep-deprived, and that their brains are pickled in “love and take care for this tiny human” juices. Basically all of the same things that made them think teething was such a big problem in the first place. So. How do you think it works? Well, the amber teething necklace comes in contact with your baby’s skin and the necklace is warmed, so this stimulates the amber to release small quantities of the succinate acid… Yeah, apparently the child isn’t supposed to put the necklace in their mouth, which was my initial thought. No, they just need to wear it. In any case: Yes, putting something that’s room temperature on something that’s hotter, will warm up the first something. So far so good. It’s when we get to the second part of that clip, that we start running into problems. Problems like: how exactly is the succinic acid is being released? It can’t be, that the body heat is melting it. It has a melting point of 186°C, and babies generally don’t reach those temperatures, at least not for more an hour and 15 minutes. The most likely option would be the baby’s sweat dissolving the acid out of the amber. Succinic acid is water soluble, and it still technically counts as having something to do with the amber being heated. Of course, if all it takes is a bit of water, that raises the question of how the hell the succinic acid stayed inside the amber for millions of years. In fact, the whole idea that putting amber next to a baby would do much of anything starts feeling more than a little like Stupid™ when you remember just how old the amber is. If spending the better part of 44 million years underground didn’t do it, it doesn’t matter how unique or special your child is, they’re not going to do it either. … which are then absorbed into the body. Drugs delivered through the skin like this are called transdermal medications. Not to be confused with topical meds, which only treat the area they are applied to, transdermal ones enter the bloodstream and affect the whole body. Both of them are fairly hard to make because one of the functions of your skin is keeping the outside from mixing with your insides. How easy it is to get a compound through the skin depends on it chemical properties. For most drugs, just putting them on the skin isn’t going to be enough. Succinic acid falls into that category. A pharmaceutical company would try to solve this problem by mixing the drug with other compounds to help it. You don’t have option, because “natural treatment” or something, and so are left with the only other option: ignoring it. But wait, it gets worse! Transdermal absorption also depends other factors, like surface area. The more contact you have between the skin and whatever you’re using to deliver the drug with, the better. You messed that one up. Not only is the necklace not that big to begin with, but you also picked one of the worst shapes for beads: spheres; well, potato-shaped. And then there’s the issue of concentration. Generally speaking, the more molecules you have of your drug, the easier it is to get through the skin. And oh boy, this is where the idea really starts falling apart. A typical amber teething necklace weighs somewhere around 30g. Assuming that all the amber starts out with the maximum 8% succinic acid, then one necklace contains 2.4g of it. Now, that might sound like a lot at first, but remember, a child might be wearing it every day for 2 years. That’s 730 days, leaving us with only 3.3mg a day. Of course, that amount isn’t going be released all at once. That’s just how much is going to slowly leach out of the amber over the course of a day. The actual amount dissolved in the baby’s sweat at any given moment would be absolutely tiny. Would be. Because all of this is assuming that the power of baby somehow allows all the succinic acid to be drained from the amber. The actual real-world concentration is going to be so small it makes homeopathic salt taste like the Dead Sea by comparison. Because the succinate acid is a natural analgesic… It’s not. Or at least I couldn’t find any studies saying it is. Or any looking into the question for that matter. Yeah, apparently it’s so implausible that no one has even bothered to look into it. But let’s roll with it and pretend that it is for a moment. The average six-month-old weighs 7.5kg. If we ignore that babies aren’t powerful wizards and go with 3.3mg of succinic acid per day, we get a total daily dosage of 0.44mg/kg body weight. That’s not a lot. But according to you, it’s more than enough to relieve mild pain for 24 hours. For comparison, you need over 100 time as much paracetamol to do that. And yet, despite being this powerful, somehow, succinic acid is classified as generally recognized as safe by the FDA and is used as an additive in food and drugs, but not as a drug itself. Do you seriously want me to buy that? Furthermore, since succinate is naturally occurring in the body, and easily utilized by it, and the amounts released by the amber would be something like 18µg an hour, the actual increase of it in the body is going to absolutely stupendously tiny. Now, given that the concentration of succinate varies a fair bit depending on amount of oxygen available and level of physical activity, you would think someone would have noticed the effect of it at some point. It’s strange how your treatment only works if I buy it from you. … its absorption reduces pain, inflammation, and drooling that come along with teething… Wait, what? Analgesics treat pain, so I get that part. But how would it being one make it treat inflammation and drooling? Also, can you explain how a compound classified as a skin irritant and known to lead to increase in proinflammatory cytokines treats inflammation? … and has a soothing effect on your baby… You know, I’ve got to give it to you. You really know how to sell the idea of sedating a baby with an untested pain medication. It’s quite impressive. … which will help both of you get back to your normal routine. Errm, have you met babies? Being upset, crying, and refusing to sleep *is* their normal routine. Why do you think the doll behind me has a speaker in its crotch? When buying an amber necklace, make sure that you choose one that has been designed with safety in mind. Yeah. I have been meaning to ask you about that. Putting a closed loop of string around a baby’s neck seems like one of those intuitively terrible ideas. The health authorities of several countries have issued warnings specifically against teething necklaces, and practically all of them advise against putting anything around the necks of young children for the obvious reason that’s it’s dangerous. Not only is there a risk of the necklace getting caught on something and strangling the child, in the event that it breaks, you are left with a bunch of small pieces for the child to choke on. And now is the time that I have to tell you that, sadly, this isn’t some hypothetical risk. Children have died because of these fucking things! That’s what prompted those health authorities to issue those warnings. And somehow some people have the nerve to ask “What’s the harm? Let people use alternative medicine if they want to.” this is the harm: dead children. It should have both a secure clasp to keep it from coming undone… You have got to be fucking kidding me. Your idea of safety was to design a necklace that is *less* likely to break from the force of struggling one-year-old? Fucking brilliant! Why don’t you just make them out of lead!? Also, why sell it as a necklace in the first place? If it just needs to touch the baby’s skin to “work”, there’s no reason for it to be around the neck. What kind of moron sells a product that’s unnecessarily unsafe!? … as well as safety knotting between each bead to prevent the beads from scattering in the unlikely that the necklace is broken. Oh, so instead of lot of small pieces for the baby to choke on, it’s one big piece for the baby to choke on. Got it. You know, I don’t think grieving parent give a whole lot of fucks about the size of the object responsible for the death of their child. They tend to have other, more important things on their minds. If you’d like to know more about the benefits of Baltic amber for your baby, please check out the link at the bottom of this video. And then put it up for adoption, so that it gets a chance to get parents who won’t put its life at risk because some lady on the internet said something about amber. That’s all for now. This has been Lucy, on behalf of Toogli Baby Products, and I’ll see you again soon in another video. No. No you won’t. Not just because I’m not expecting a lot of my audience to go look up your channel. It’s mainly because this video is 3 years old and the only thing on the it. And it’s not because the company doesn’t exist any more. That’s still going. Apparently, it’s just that they can’t even say goodbye without getting something wrong. See you next time, gnathostomes!