Breastfeeding For More Than 2 Years Places Children At Higher Risk Of Dental Cavities

Breastfeeding is a sensitive topic whether the conversation is on personal preference or health benefits. A new study now shows an indirect impact of breastfeeding on children, as evidence suggests that children who are breastfed for longer than two years are more at risk of developing severe cavities.

Increased Risks For Cavities

The team began their study in 2004 in Pelotas, Brazil, where a group of 4,231 infants were examined within 24 hours after their birth. Follow-up checkups then occurred at three months, 12 months, and four years old. Each follow-up included a face-to-face interview with the children's parents.

After the follow-ups, 1,303 children were then assessed as eligible for the oral exam that was held in 2009. In the assessment, the children's teeth were examined for two things: severe early childhood caries (S-ECC) and the average number of decayed, missing, or filled primary tooth surfaces (dmfs).

Along with the examination, information regarding the children's sugar consumption was also gathered, which included actual sugar consumption and bottle feeding at night. What they found was that children who were breastfed for more than two years were 2.4 times likelier to develop S-ECC compared to those who were only breastfed until one year of age.

Breastfeeding for between 13 to 23 months had no significant effect on dental caries.

Simply put, the evidence suggests that prolonged breastfeeding increases a child's risks for developing severe dental caries.

Establish Preventative Interventions Early On

A possible explanation that researchers offer is that perhaps some of the children are more exposed to nighttime feeding, when it is more difficult to clean the teeth. Further, they are also exploring the possibility that perhaps the high lactose composition of human milk allows it to reduce further the pH of dental plaque as compared to cow's milk.

Researchers believe that because of these findings, it is important to establish preventative interventions as early as possible in the child's life, especially since breastfeeding is seen as beneficial to children's health.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding Benefits

People say the bond between a mother and her child develops during breastfeeding sessions, and through the years, parents have been told that it isn't just good for the mother-child relationship but that breastfed children are also more intelligent.

Though a study last March was not able to directly link breastfeeding and cognitive capabilities, breastfeeding was still found to have other health benefits such as lowering the risks for asthma, preventing sudden infant deaths, and reducing the risks for obesity and diabetes.

The benefits don't stop there because moms can benefit from breastfeeding too, as moms have the added benefit of weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower risks for stroke and heart attack. What's more, the risks for heart attack and stroke were seen to reduce even further with prolonged breastfeeding.

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