In Nigeria as with many parts of the world, there are myths that exist considering certain medical illnesses. For starters, myths are age long widely held, but false beliefs passed on from generation to generation. Since I knew anything thing at all, I’ve about them. Many of them have found their bases in medicine itself, most times, misinterpreted. A few of such myths include;
- Lying on the cold floor or staying in very cold environment causes pneumonia
- Drinking cold water makes labour difficult
- Taking a lot of sugar and sugary foods causes helminthiasis (worms)
- You should drink 2.5 – 3 litres of water a day
- Cracking your knuckles will cause early onset arthritis
- Giving a child meat would make him a thief
- Quickly applying salt and cold water or egg when scalded by hot water or steam prevents it from blistering or worse effects.
However, by far worse is the teething myth. It is the commonest I’ve seen in many paediatric clinics and by far the one with the most devastating effect. The belief is that an infant from 6 month to age develops diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms and sometimes fever when they are teething. They only show up at the hospital when the child either has a high fever, is vomiting of is dehydrated.
The purpose of this article is to dispel this myth and bring out the true reasons that these things happen at that age. It seems constantly teaching each mother as she walks into my consulting room has almost no effect, so kindly reshare to as many people and social networking platforms as possible.
The reason is simple really. From 6 months of age, certain events occur in the life of an infant that bring about the fever, diarrohea, flu-like symptoms and vomiting. They are;
- They lose their maternal immunity and aren’t yet able to develop theirs.
- They have started crawling about and can pick up objects, including those that may be infected and it goes directly into their mouths.
- This is the age at which most of them are weaned. In the course of weaning, not many mothers can properly wash and take care of their bottles (which is why cup and spoon feeding is now advocated), and germs can hide in its many nicks and crannies, exposing the child to more infections.
So, the child has virtually no immunity to protect him, picks stuff from the floor and puts it straight in the mouth and he is being fed with bottle whose level of hygiene is highly doubtful. The first symptom that inadvertently appears is the diarrhoea, then others. The greatest fear about all this is the dehydration that might eventually lead to the death of the innocent infant.
Also, many drug formulations have been introduced into the market in Nigeria as usual to exploit the fears of these mothers and some have been known to cause renal failure.
So now you know the truth, please share and reshare and save the lives of many more children.