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Monday, March 9, 2015

Teething May Not Be Causing Diarrhoea

Many new mums must have heard from their mothers-in-law that a child’s diarrhoea during the first 6 -12 months is because the baby is teething. They are told that when the tooth has emerged, the diarrhoea and other symptoms will disappear. However, experts have disproved this story, having discovered that many symptoms previously thought to be caused by teething may actually be caused by a more serious illness.

Also, they are worried that the myth about the teething diarrhea may have misled and misguided some parents from paying serious attention to other serious symptoms their baby may be having such as increased temperature greater than 102°F and severe diarrhoea. This was the finding in a new study which showed that diarrhoea and fever that is greater than 1020F is not associated with teething.
The study published recently in the journal of paediatrics, is a detailed research by paediatricians at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio USA. The researchers examined 125 babies’ ages 3 to 6 months for eight months, keeping a daily checklist of their temperatures, tooth eruptions, and 18 symptoms of the infants who completed the study, more than 35% had no symptoms during their eight-day teething periods while others had decreased appetite for
solid foods and other symptoms such as biting, drooling, ear rubbing, gum rubbing, irritability, rash on face, sucking, and abnormal temperature and wakefulness. The teething period was defined as the eight-day period beginning four days before a tooth comes through the gum and extending three days afterward.

The researchers concluded that biting, drooling, gum rubbing, irritability, and sucking occurred with greater frequency during teething. Also, elevated temperature that is less than 102°F was an indicator of teething, but only the day before and the day that the tooth actually came through the gum. Also debunking the myth behind teething diarrhoea, a Consultant paediatrician at Abuja Clinics, Dr. Ambrose Awogu, attributed the cause to decline in protective substance of the breast milk which starts to occur after 6 months of birth. “Most breast fed babies are well protected from infections due to living substances in the breast milk which prevents bacteria, viruses, and fungi, from attaching itself to the baby. It will take a very virulent infection to overcome the defences provided by breast milk.
“However, after 6 months, the strength of these protective substance in the breast milk begins to fall. Their potency from 6 months is about 50-60 percent of what it was at birth. With this decline, viruses and bacteria may now have an in-road into the baby and produce the first episode of diarrhoea. Hence a baby will usually have his or her first diarrhoea at the age of 6 months”, he said.

Explaining further, he said the diarrhoea itself is a defence mechanism by the baby’s body as it tries to flush out the offending organism. “Unfortunately, this is also the time the baby is producing its first tooth, hence the reason behind the belief that teething causes diarrhea. And because the diarrhoea usually lasts a few days, the same time the tooth is fully emerged, one can see the logic behind the belief”, explains Dr. Awogu. According to him, teething has no relationship with diarrhoea, it is simply a coincidence that both occurred at the same time. His advice, “all diarrhoea in babies should be managed with oral rehydration salts and continued breast feeding. Do not fall for the general belief that because it is caused by the tooth it will stop. The child will only get more and more dehydrated and weak. Parents should pay attention to their children and report all symptoms to the doctor.”


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