A Connecticut family recently learned the hard way that some alternative healing practices can be downright dangerous, when their infant daughter got lead poisoning from a homeopathic teething bracelet.

According to the CDC, the 9-month-old baby had a routine check-up, and when the doctor did blood work they discovered surprisingly high levels of lead in her blood. There are no safe levels of lead in a child’s blood, but levels higher than 5 μg/dL are generally considered abnormal. This baby’s blood lead level was 41 μg/dL.

At first everyone assumed the problem must be in the home. The family home was built in the 1920s, and older homes often contain lead paint or lead in building materials. There was lead in the baby’s home, but only in some places the baby could not reasonably get to. A three-year-old and a five-year-old also live in the house, and both of those kids had blood lead levels less than 3μg/dL.

The lead poisoning came from a teething bracelet

Eventually, the source of the lead was tracked to a “homeopathic magnetic hematite healing bracelet” the family had purchased from a local art fair. It came from an art fair, so there was no list of ingredients or safety approvals in place. The family has no idea who the artisan selling the bracelets even was.

The bracelet was made of hematite and what looks like tiger’s eye beads. In between, however, the artisan used little metal spacer beads. Those spacer beads contained a ton of lead.

In the U.S., the Consumer Product Commission says products made for children cannot have more than 100 ppm of lead. Those spacer beads had 17,000 ppm. It was a teething bracelet, so of course the baby chewed and sucked on it.

According to the CDC, most lead poisoning is a result of kids putting lead-containing products in their mouths. Usually it’s paint, dust, or contaminated soil. But charms and jewelry are also a potential source of lead poisoning. Especially if kids put them in their mouths.

The CDC posted the story on its website. It’s important to know that this sort of thing can happen, both so parents know not to buy teething remedies from random jewelry sellers at art fairs, but also so they can keep an eye on their own jewelry and products. The spacers on that bracelet are extremely common. I know I’ve seen spacers that look like that at art fairs and craft fairs.

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(H/T Scary Mommy, Image: CDC)