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Breast-Feeding Doesn't Contribute to Cavities
Date:10/1/2007

Toddler tooth troubles more likely linked to poverty, maternal smoking, study says

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding will not ratchet up the risk of toddler tooth decay, new research claims.

Cavities affect one in four young children, but the contributing factors are more likely to be smoking during pregnancy, being poor, or being Mexican-American, the study in the October issue of Pediatrics suggested.

The finding throws a new twist into the heated debate between breast-feeding advocates and their critics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk for all infants for their first year of life. However, health experts have long been concerned about tooth decay once baby teeth come in, especially for infants who nurse all night.

Researchers at the University of Rochester and New York University analyzed demographic details, dental health data and infant feeding information from 1,576 toddlers whose families participated in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Among those toddlers, 27.5 percent had had at least one tooth that had been filled or pulled because of a cavity. One in ten had severe early childhood caries, the disease that causes cavities. Just over 40 percent of the children in Mexican-American families had at least one cavity. Among children living below the federal poverty level, 41.3 percent had at least one cavity, and 18.6 percent had severe early childhood caries. Children born to mothers who were 19 or younger were also at increased risk of early childhood cavities.

The study began as an effort to understand the relationship between breast-feeding and toddlers' oral health, but the analysis uncovered more powerful risk factors.

To some degree, the data shows that breast-feeding is not protective against caries, said study author Hiroko Iida, because other factors negate the positive effect of br
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