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Q&A: Are loose bowel movements during teething normal?

Teething is one of those events that comes with many myths and misconceptions. Diarrhea, ear infections, crying, and fevers have all been blamed on teething.

In 1992, the issue was finally put to a scientific study by a group in Israel. They asked mothers to record their children’s temperatures and any other symptoms while they were teething. What they found was that a tooth coming in was not responsible for ear troubles, a temperature over 100.7, or diarrhea. I’ll confess though, that over the years I’ve had many parents refuse to believe this and insist that their children’s stools were looser during teething.

The bottom line is that true diarrhea should never be ascribed just to teething. Looser than normal stools are harder to interpret, especially since toddlerhood is a time when bowel habits can swing from one extreme to the other. You should at least consider what other factors may be causing looser stools. Is your son drinking more juice? Using a bottle to soothe sore gums? These may be more direct causes of a change in stool habits.

If he is otherwise fine and growing well, then the cause isn’t too likely to be serious. Baby-Dophilus probably won’t help his situation. Acidophilus products are designed to replenish the gut with ‘good’ bacteria after a bout of infectious diarrhea, which doesn’t sound like your son’s problem.

If your son is having more than two or three loose bowel movements daily or if you think the pattern is worsening, mention this to your pediatrician so that other causes can be considered.

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