Among the Teachings of Islam is that one carry out the Tahneek of the newborn child.
Tahneek is for one to soften a date (or any other sweet food) by chewing it until it becomes a paste (so that it is easy for the child to swallow) and to thereafter place it in the mouth of the newborn child. It is preferable that the one carrying out the tahneek be a pious person. There are many ahaadeeth which mention Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) performing tahneek for the children of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum).
The primary reason for one to carry out the tahneek is that it is the teaching of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Nevertheless, the practice of tahneek contains numerous physical and health benefits as well.
When the date or sweet substance is placed in the mouth of the child, the child instinctively begins to suck it and chews at it with his gums. This strengthens the muscles, blood vessels and nerves of the mouth and jaw, preparing them in advance for the baby’s first feed from the mother. (Tarbiyatul Awlaad fil Islam pg. 77)
On average, one out of every ten premature babies suffers from low blood sugar which sometimes even causes brain damage. In 2013, doctors ‘discovered’ a remedy that was more effective than the glucose solution normally administered via I.V. drip – dextrose syrup. This sugar-rich syrup is plastered onto the cheek of the child, and by sucking on the syrup, the blood sugar level of the child is maintained.
Little did these doctors realize that through the blessing of Islam and the sunnah, Muslims have adhered to the very same practice, known as tahneek, for over a thousand years!
‘Sugar gel’ helps premature babies
A dose of sugar given as a gel rubbed into the inside of the cheek is a cheap and effective way to protect premature babies against brain damage, say experts.
Dangerously low blood sugar affects about one in 10 babies born too early. Untreated, it can cause permanent harm.
Researchers from New Zealand tested the gel therapy in 242 babies under their care and, based on the results, say it should now be a first-line treatment.
Their work is published in The Lancet.
Dextrose gel treatment costs just over £1 per baby and is simpler to administer than glucose via a drip, say Prof Jane Harding and her team at the University of Auckland.
This is a cost effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services which are already working at high capacity levels”
Current treatment typically involves extra feeding and repeated blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.
But many babies are admitted to intensive care and given intravenous glucose because their blood sugar remains low – a condition doctors call hypoglycaemia.
The study assessed whether treatment with dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone at reversing hypoglycaemia.
Neil Marlow, from the Institute for Women’s Health at University College London, said that although dextrose gel had fallen into disuse, these findings suggested it should be resurrected as a treatment.
We now had high-quality evidence that it was of value, he said.
Andy Cole, chief executive of premature baby charity Bliss, said: “This is a very interesting piece of new research and we always welcome anything that has the potential to improve outcomes for babies born premature or sick.
“This is a cost-effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services, which are already working at high capacity levels.
“While the early results of this research show benefits to babies born with low blood sugars, it is clear there is more research to be done to implement this treatment.”