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Definition:

Epstein pearls are whitish-yellow cysts that form on the gums and roof of the mouth in a newborn baby.

See also: Milia



Alternative Names:

Gingival cysts of the newborn



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Epstein pearls occur only in the newborn and are very common. They are seen in approximately 80% of newborns.

The pearls are protein-filled cysts. The condition is harmless, although it sometimes worries new mothers.



Symptoms:

Whitish-yellow nodules appear on the gums or the roof of the mouth in a newborn. They sometimes look like emerging teeth.



Signs and tests:

Examination of the infant confirms that these are Epstein pearls and not teeth present at birth (natal teeth ).



Treatment:

No treatment is necessary.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Epstein pearls disappear within 1 to 2 weeks of birth.



Complications:

There are often no complications.



Calling your health care provider:

If you are concerned about Epstein pearls in your infant, discuss it with your health care provider during a routine well-baby examination .



Prevention:



References:

Lowe MC Jr, Woolridge DP. The normal newborn exam, or is it? Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2007;25:921-946.

Morelli JG. Disorders of the Mucous Membranes. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF. Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 663.




Review Date: 7/15/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100