I was catching up on some of my journals the other day when I came upon an article that caught my interest. Regular readers/listeners of my blog may remember a pedcast I did on teething last year. In that post, I tried to get to the facts of what we know and don’t know about the effect of teething on children. Many parents believe that tooth eruption causes high fever, diarrhea, and/or severe pain. When I made the teething pedcast, I had concluded from my reading and my own experience that teething does not cause a lot of physical symptoms. None of these things happen at the time of dental eruption but many parents attribute all sorts of symptoms to teething to this day.
So it was great interest that I read an article in the September 2011 journal Pediatrics about a study that was done in Brazil, of all places. There, the researchers sought to determine what, if any, symptoms are attributable to the eruption of primary teeth in children between five and fifteen months of age. They observed 231 teeth erupt in the 53 children that they observed. To my surprise, they discovered that Grandma was right, at least partly: teething causes fever, diarrhea, irritability, sleeplessness, and a runny nose. The researchers found that fever .17 degrees Celsius, irritability, diarrhea and sleeplessness were more frequent on the day of a tooth eruption as well as the following day. They did not find in any of the children they studied, however, that high fever, severe pain, or any severe symptom was associated with the teething process. Their findings confirm my opinions expressed in last year’s pedcast; it is nice to be right on occasion.
The next time you hear someone talking about teething causing severe symptoms of any sort, remember the facts that this study points out: Grandma was right to believe that a variety of physical symptoms do seem to accompany teething, but she was not correct to attribute any severe behavioral or bodily changes to teething. Now you know.
Until next time.
Ramos-Jorge et. al. :Pediatrics Volume 128, Number 3, September 2011