Background: in November 2008. There was a national tragedy which recorded about eighty four Nigerian infant deaths due to the consumption of adulterated teething syrup- 'my pikin' administered to children by mothers to prevent 'teething problems". This could have been prevented if they had been well informed about the teething process.
Objective: to determine the knowledge, understanding and beliefs of caregivers attending LASUTH immunization clinic about teething.
Methods: An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to collect data from 260 caregivers of children aged 4-36 months attending the immunization clinic in LASUTH over a six weeks period. The questionnaire assessed their knowledge, understanding, beliefs about teething and the teething experience in their wards.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 30.4 5.3years. Fifty seven percent had tertiary education. However, none of the caregivers obtained information about teething from the dentist. There was an association between educational level and attitude to teething (p=0.002) as well as their understanding of the teething process (p=0.0009). Gum irritation was the most reported symptom observed in this study. Many of the caregivers had erroneous beliefs regarding the systemic symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea and vomiting which they attributed to teething.
Conclusion: Many of the caregivers studied still had erroneous beliefs regarding teething. Thus there is a need to disseminate the right information about teething to care givers in this environment in order to discourage the use of the term "teething" for a serious childhood illness that might require prompt medical attention.