"The poverty correlation with caries is longstanding, consistent and believed to reflect a combination of lack of health knowledge, limited access to care, poor diet, perhaps poor prenatal care, and inadequate self-care," said Casamassimo. "Simply being Mexican-American reflects the fact that they are often among our poorest, and thus reflect the above factors."
Maternal smoking was also strongly tied to cavities risk in infants, but the analysis did not offer insight into the root of that relationship.
"As the [study] author points out, mothers tend to smoke before, through and after pregnancy, and thus the child may be poorly developed in utero and during early life, leading to increased risk for caries," said Casamassimo, who suggested that smoking may affect the child's immune system or possibly support bacteria in a mother's mouth that can be passed on to the child. "Smoking may be a surrogate measure of some factor not necessarily noted in the study. In other words, there may be a health contribution to caries susceptibility that is not measured or even known."
Preventive dental care is important for toddlers, said Iida, as the data shows cavities can grow as soon as there are teeth. One in 10 of the 2-year-olds in the study already had a cavity. Among the 5-year-olds, nearly half (44 percent) had had at least one cavity.
For more about healthy teeth for children, visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
SOURCES: Ruth Lawrence, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, N.Y., and member, executive committee, section on breast-feeding, American Academy of Pediatrics; Paul Casamassimo, D.D.S., M.S., professor and chief, Dentistry Nationwide Childrens Hospital and The Ohio St
All rights reserved