Caries and its association with infant feeding and oral health-related behaviours in 3-4-year-old Brazilian children

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2000-12-01

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Objectives: To investigate the relationships between socio-demographic factors, infant feeding habits, oral hygiene and the prevalence and patterns of caries in Brazilian 3-4-year-olds. Methods: Systematic random sampling was used to select children enrolled in municipal nurseries in Araraquara, Brazil, in 1998. Clinical examinations were carried out by one examiner using dmft and dmfs indices and WHO criteria. Questionnaires for information related to the socio-demographic background, oral hygiene and dietary history of the children were completed by their mothers. Results: Caries was seen in 46% of the children; 17% of them had the more extensive pattern involving molars and incisors. Social class, mother's education, and age at which breast-feeding terminated showed statistically significant associations with caries. Feeding bottles with added sugars were still being given to 80% of the children. When the significant variables were taken into account only age at which breast-feeding terminated showed a significant relationship to the pattern of disease. Children who were never breast-fed or were breast-fed beyond the age of 24 months had a higher prevalence of the more extensive pattern of caries. Conclusions: The association between the length of time a mother breast-feeds and extensive caries should be a consideration in any local infant feeding policies or health promotion strategies. The duration for appropriate breast- or bottle-feeding should be emphasised.

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Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, v. 28, n. 4, p. 241-248, 2000.

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