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Newborn and Infant Care

Newborn makes popping/crackling sound

05/11/2007

Question:

Hello,

My fiance and I recently had a baby. She`s three weeks old and was born via C-section. Since she was born, she`s made a grinding/popping sound as she nurses, yawns, sucks on a bottle, etc. I can feel her jaw and even the back and top area of her skull grind/pop when she does these activities. The sound can be rather loud at times where I can hear it from across the room. I don`t believe she`s in pain, but I don`t know for certain until she`s able to speak. We`ve seen doctors regarding this, but they all seem baffled by it. Also, the she doesn`t always make the sound. It depends on how hungry she is and the angle/force she sucks on things, but as I said it occurs when she yawns too. Do you know anyone who can explain this?

Answer:

It is possible that this is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, which is actually not uncommon among newborns. It is believed that birth trauma and the influence of maternal hormones promoting joint relaxation contribute to instability of this "jaw" joint in newborns. The problem can affect one or both sides of the jaw. It is entirely possible that it may resolve on its own as the level of hormones that crossed the placenta before birth drop in the baby.

It sounds as though this is not causing any difficulty in your baby's feeding. It is not painful in the early years either. The problem may lead to jaw pain in later life due to excessive wear and tear on the joint cartilage from joint laxity and greater than normal movement within the joint. The best person to evaluate this problem is actually a pediatric dentist. These specialists can be found through the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, www.aapd.org or contact your local Children's Hospital Dentistry Clinic.

I hope this information is helpful! Congratulations on your healthy baby and and on your loving choice of breastfeeding!

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University