Maternal caries experience influences offspring’s early childhood caries – a birth cohort study.
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Objective: To describe early childhood caries (ECC) patterns and evaluate the associations with maternal caries experience and other factors.
Methods: A secondary analysis was undertaken using data from the Study of Mothers' and Infants' Life Events Affecting Oral Health (SMILE), a population‐based birth cohort study. It used data from 1040 mother/child dyads. Standardized oral examinations of the mothers and the children were conducted when children were 2‐3 years old to determine the prevalence of ECC (main outcome) and maternal caries experience (main exposure variable). Maternal sociodemographic characteristics, time‐restricting conditions (relationship status, work status and number of children in the household) and dental health behaviours (brushing frequency and sugary beverage consumption) served as covariates. Data on child dental health behaviours were collected at two years of age. Multivariable models were generated for ECC to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) for the association between ECC and maternal caries experience, controlling for the covariates.
Results: The prevalence of ECC among 2‐ to 3‐year‐old children was 10.6% (95%CI: 8.7%‐12.5%). It was higher in children whose mothers had greater caries experience. Children whose mothers had higher caries experience had 86% (PR = 1.86 [1.27‐2.72]) greater risk of having ECC than those whose mothers had low caries experience. Children whose teeth had not been brushed the night before had a higher risk of ECC (PR = 1.4 [1.01‐1.9]) than their counterparts. Women born in Australia, New Zealand or the UK had offspring with lower risk of ECC.
Conclusions: Maternal caries experience was an independent risk factor for offspring ECC. However, good oral health behaviours practised by mothers for their children may alleviate such risk. Mothers need to be supported to adopt good oral health behaviours and a healthy diet for their child.
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