Stressed mums have kids with more tooth decay

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Tooth decay in children is rampant in Singapore. Research says that early childhood caries are related to having a stressed mum.

At Ask The Expert, I spoke of the most common infectious disease of childhood, Early Childhood Caries (ECC) or baby bottle tooth decay. A worrying trend in Singapore is that a quarter of all three-year-old children are affected by ECC, and this number rises to half of all children aged six.

Our modern lifestyles are more stressful then ever, and the food and drink available for our children contain more and more added sugars, in both obvious and subtle forms. This, along with poor oral hygiene, is the chief cause of ECC in our children. But that’s not the only link.

Researchers from the UK and the US conducted a study on over 700 children that was published recently in the American Journal of Public Health, showing that a link may also exist between maternal stress levels and propensity for that mom’s child to have tooth decay.

tooth decay

In the study, biological stress markers were first measured from the blood of mothers. Next, their children between the ages of two to six were dentally screened for the presence of ECC, and the results analysed. It was found that the mothers with elevated stress levels were significantly more likely to have children with tooth decay.

Because the direct scientific link between the two findings is still poorly understood, the researchers sought to investigate how highly stressed mothers may be altering their care-taking behaviors to affect the chances of their children developing tooth decay. Thus, they also conducted interviews with the mothers to explore care-taking factors such as regular dental visits, breast-feeding habits and daily breakfast habits for these children.

The results showed that highly stressed mothers had less time to bring their children for regular dental check-ups, which resulted in most dental decay going undetected until the screening.

Breastfeeding? You just might improve your child’s dental health. Read on to the next page!

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