October 11, 2002
(British Medical Journal) – Health professionals still attribute many major ills to infant teething, despite good evidence that teething is associated with, at most, minor and relatively infrequent symptoms, finds a study in this week’s BMJ. These beliefs may even lead to late diagnosis of important illnesses.
Researchers in Australia surveyed representative samples of the five groups of professionals most closely concerned with the health of children (paediatricians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and general practitioners).
In every professional group most thought that at least some infants or young children suffer symptoms. Paediatricians attributed an average of 2.8 symptoms to teething and nurses an average of 9.8.
Paracetamol and teething gels were widely recommended by all groups, and 41% pharmacists recommended sedating medication.
These beliefs may prevent professionals from effectively managing some of the common developmental issues of infancy and might lead to late diagnosis of important illnesses. They also illustrate how great the distance may be between research evidence and professional practice, say the authors.
They conclude: Will these beliefs alter, now that we know how innocuous teething is?