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False tooth extraction (FTE), a cultural practice in East Africa used to treat fever and diarrhea in infants, has been thought to increase infant mortality. The mortality of clinically similar infants with and without false tooth extraction has not previously been examined. The objective of our retrospective cohort study was to examine the mortality, clinical presentation, and treatment of infants with and without false tooth extraction. We conducted a retrospective chart review of records of infants with diarrhea, sepsis, dehydration, and fever in a rural Ugandan emergency department. Univariate analysis was used to test statistical significance. We found the mortality of infants with false tooth extraction (FTE+) was 18% and without false tooth extraction (FTE−) was 14% (P=0.22). The FTE+ study group, and FTE− comparison group, had similar proportions of infants with abnormal heart rate and with hypoxia. There was a significant difference in the portion of infants that received antibiotics (P=0.001), and fluid bolus (P=0.002). Although FTE+ infants had clinically similar ED presentations to FTE− infants, the FTE+ infants were significantly more likely to receive emergency department interventions, and had a higher mortality than FTE− infants.
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