Perception of mothers in Owerri, South-East Nigeria about teething in infants.

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From: Port Harcourt Medical Journal(Vol. 14, Issue 3)
Publisher: Medknow Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,772 words
Lexile Measure: 1570L

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Byline: Kelechi. Odinaka, Edelu. Benedict, Amamilo. Ifeyinwa, Nwolisa. Emeka, Kingsley. Achigbu

Background: Teething is a natural and physiological process in growing infants. It is one of the major milestones in the development of the child and has been attributed to cause a myriad of problems to the infant. Aim: This study sought to determine the knowledge, beliefs and practices of mothers from Owerri, South-East Nigeria on childhood teething. Methods: This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study that involved 127 mothers who attended the infant immunisation clinic of Federal Medical Centre Owerri over 3 months from September to November 2018. Results: Fifty-one (41.7%) infants had the eruption of the first tooth on or before 5 months of age. A good proportion 111 (87.4%) of mothers believed that tooth eruption in infants will come with illness, while 55 (43.3%) of the mothers had in the past experienced symptoms with teething in their babies. Seventy-three (57.5%) of the mothers use medications as prophylaxis for teething-associated problems. Mother's education did not significantly influence the use of teething prophylaxis (31.4% of mothers with tertiary education administered medications to their children during teething compared to 54.2% of mothers with lower educational background, P = 0.094, [chi]2 = 6.392). Conclusion: Mothers in Owerri, South Eastern Nigeria irrespective of their educational status still have wrong perceptions and beliefs about teething and majority routinely administer medications for presumed teething problems.


Teething is the process by which a baby's teeth erupt, or break through, the gums. The process usually begins at about 5-7 months of age with the lower central incisors.[1] It is one of the major milestones in the child's development and in Nigeria, many parents celebrate it by taking photographs of the child. In addition, the precocious eruption of teeth is seen as a sign of great intelligence in some cultures.[2] However, teething is thought to be associated with a myriad of problems to the infant.

The period of teething coincides with the time when there is waning of transplacentally transferred humoral immunity and the establishment of the child's own humoral immunity. This makes the infants relatively more susceptible to a wide range of infections at this time.[3] In addition, a lot of babies insert their fingers into their mouth in a bid to reduce some discomfort associated with teething and could introduce infectious agents into their mouth in the process.

There have been conflicting reports in medical literature concerning teething and its association with childhood illness. For instance, Hippocrates believed teething was associated with itching gum, diarrhoea and fever, while Wake et al .[4] refuted these associations. These conflicting reports may explain why a lot of parents and even some health-care practitioners (some of whom are parents themselves) still attribute certain childhood illness such as vomiting, fever and diarrhoea to teething. This belief may lead to delay in seeking prompt medical intervention. On the other hand, they may also be aggressive with seeking care and administer unnecessary medications putting the child at risk of harm and thus...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A656645788