The belief among mothers that teething is a cause of purulent ear discharge: fact or fiction?
Background: Various myths and health beliefs have been associated with teething. Some of these beliefs and myths have dire health consequences on children especially in Africa. This raises the need for further research into the subject with the aim of establishing the persistence of such beliefs and offering appropriate health education..
Methodology: This was a cross-sectional, multi clinic study involving 265 mothers whose children had erupted at least a tooth and attending the children`s out-patients, dental and the ear, nose and throat clinics of a tertiary hospital in south-west Nigeria. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to collect data from the mothers.
Results: The age range of the mothers was 23 to 51years with a mean of 32.5 years. 15.1%, 20.7%, 25.7% and 38.5% had, no formal, primary, secondary and tertiary education respectively. About two-third (61.9%) believe that teething is a cause of purulent ear discharge while 12.1% and 26.0% did not believe in, and were unsure of, any association between teething and ear discharge respectively. Peers, parents, health care workers and personal experiences were the sources of beliefs associating teething with purulent ear discharge in 62.8%, 21.9%, 6.0% and 9.3% of the cohorts respectively. None (0%) of the respondents had prior knowledge of proven causes of ear discharge.
Conclusion: Many of the mothers had erroneous beliefs regarding teething and ear discharge and peer inuence appears to be a key factor in the promotion of such beliefs. There is a need to educate mothers on correct information about teething and proven causes of ear discharge.
Keywords: Teething, Myths, Ear discharge, Peer influence