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The Baby Teething Problem.

Dr Alaba

15th Mar, 2016

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“Doctor, my child has a fever and has been stooling since yesterday, I know my child has a teething problem and have bought teething medications but the symptoms still persist, what can i do”?

The statement above is one of the commonest misconception mothers’ associate with some common childhood illnesses. The big Question now is- WHAT IS THE TEETHING PROBLEM?

Almost every mum we come across believes that outgrowth of teeth in babies is a disease causing condition. Commonly, is the diarrhea, others are several feverish conditions and skin diseases. There are even teething mixtures in the local drug stores unsurprisingly. The development of teeth is a natural process just like the growth of hair, nails even the bones.

It's true some children may have some associated symptoms when they sprout their first set of teeth, however others don’t have any symptoms. Common symptoms of teething include:

  • Red and swollen gums,
  • Ear rubbing on the same side the tooth is erupting(due to ear/jaw pain),
  • Teeth crankiness,
  • Drooling and occasionally sudden gush of blood from the gum.

It has nothing to do with diarrhea, malaria, cough and catarrh and skin infections amongst others that usually beset children during this stage of development. It is just that there are some other developmental changes in the baby and mothers` care that predisposes the child to infections during the teething period which mothers have adduced to be the cause. This belief or false idea has really hampered mothers from taking the proper care to prevent these illnesses in their children. It is disheartening that mothers we have taken time to explain the condition to find it difficult to accept their falsehood. We agree it’s a false knowledge passed down the generations.

Now, the truth:

  • Babies begin to grow teeth about 6 months upwards.
  • At about 5-6 months the antibodies in their blood transferred from the mother which helps to fight off infections wear off.
  • At this period, baby`s red blood cells from the womb( rich in fetal hemoglobin)  which are resistant to malaria also dies and are being replaced with adult type which are prone to malaria.
  • At this stage of development, babies also begin to crawl with their body rubbing on the floor, handling objects and always putting them into the mouth thereby introducing pathogens (disease causing agents) into the body system.
  • At this stage also, mothers stop exclusive breastfeeding and introduce adult meals as complements and to wean them off breast milk. These feeds may be prepared with unsafe water, unwashed hands and less hygienic conditions, serving long -standing prepared feeds, etc. Pathogens are thereby introduced via feeding.

So basically, mothers and other caregivers are to take preventive measures in anticipation of these changes that come up in the course of their child`s development and their demands and stop pointing accusing fingers at the beautiful and innocent little white teeth sprouting naturally.

Needless to say are the preventive measures, but for emphasis sake, proper personal hygiene and cleanliness in the home is very important.

  • Short finger nails, regular hand washing after cleaning up the baby and before handling the feeds and feeding materials.
  • Feeding materials are to be washed properly and kept sterile by boiling or micro-waving and kept away cleanly.
  • The water to be used for feed preparation should be safe.
  • The floor and playing areas of the crawling babies should be kept clean and free of dirty materials.
  • Baby`s clothing should be washed regularly and sun dried or pressed.
  • The use of insecticide treated bed nets is necessary.

Our advice in a nutshell is that when next your baby is having high fever, diarrhea, vomiting or cough, please visit a Doctor before you assume that it’s a teething problem. Please don’t give medications without doctor`s prescription.

Your parenthood experience shall be a beautiful one, we so much pray.

Image Credit: Internet

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