Babies are often a mystery to parents and other caregivers, especially when it comes to their health. Because they can't speak for themselves, they depend on others to interpret their signs of health and illness. Most childcare books cover such common disorders as ear infections, fevers, diarrhea and rashes, but babies can have obscure conditions and display unusual signs not typically addressed in these books. The following questions will test your knowledge of some of the lesser-known baby body signs and syndromes.
1. An infant who develops teeth during the first few weeks may:
(a) Have an over-active thyroid
(b) Go through early puberty
(c) Have difficulty nursing or bottle-feeding
(d) All of the above
2. If a baby's eyes tear up while drinking from a bottle or breast, it can be a sign of:
(a) Crocodile tear syndrome
(b) Sour milk
(c) Cry-baby syndrome
(d) Readiness to be weaned
3. Hair or skin products that contain estrogen should not be used on babies or by pregnant women because they can cause:
(a) A baby's hair to fall out
(b) Premature puberty
(c) Baby acne
(d) All the above
4. A very smooth tongue in a baby is often a sign that the baby:
(a) Is teething
(b) Is ready for solid foods
(c) Has a vitamin deficiency
(d) Will grow up to be a smooth talker
5. Babies with freckles:
(a) Are usually born with them
(b) Have been exposed to too much sun
(c) Usually have red hair
(d) All of the above
6. If your baby girl has Epstein's pearls:
(a) She has white bumps on the roof of her mouth
(b) She has infected earlobes
(c) She has white bumps around her neck
(d) She should give them back to Mrs. Epstein
1. (d) All of the above. Teeth that appear during a baby's first few weeks (neonatal teeth) tend to run in families. Although usually harmless, these tiny teeth can irritate a baby's tongue or gums, making breast or bottle feeding somewhat difficult. In some cases, they've been associated with hyperthyroidism and early puberty.
2. (a) Crocodile tear syndrome. Babies who have this rare, usually benign condition can be born with it or develop it after an eye infection or following a physical trauma to the eye or facial nerves. Crocodile tear syndrome usually clears up on its own or with medical treatment.
3. (b) Premature puberty. Estrogen or placenta containing beauty products should not be used on babies or by pregnant women. They've been linked to premature puberty in girls. And products containing lavender oil or tea tree oil -- both of which have estrogenic effects -- have been shown to cause enlarged breasts in young boys (gynecomastia).
4. (c) Has a vitamin deficiency. A healthy tongue should be rosy colored, silky soft and covered with tiny uniform bumps called papillae. These are actually microscopic hairs which contain taste buds. Certain nutritional disorders and deficiencies cause the tongue to lose these bumps, and the tongue becomes very smooth and glassy.
5. (b) Have been exposed to too much sun. Freckles are an inherited trait most often found in families with blond or red hair, and/or fair skin. Although genetics does play a key role, freckles are not present at birth. Rather, they usually show up when a baby is about two years old, and are the result of excess exposure to the sun, especially in genetically predisposed children.
6. (a) She has white bumps on the roof of her mouth. Epstein pearls, a common, harmless condition, are whitish fluid-filled cysts found on the roof of the mouth. When they appear elsewhere on the gums, they're called Bohn's nodules. They're the oral equivalent of milia (baby acne); and like baby pimples, they usually disappear on their own.
In-depth answers to all the questions above can be found in "Baby Body Signs: The Head-to-Toe Guide to Your Child's Health, from Birth Through the Toddler Years," as well as in various medical textbooks and journals.
Follow Joan Liebmann-Smith, PhD and Jacqueline Egan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jliebmannsmith