Mother’s stress linked to dental cavities in children

New York: Mothers suffering from chronic stress are more likely to have children with dental cavities, reveals a study.

Chronic stress was also found to be linked to lower probabilities of breast feeding and dental visits by children.

“Policy that aims to improve dental health, particularly the prevalence of cavities among children, should include interventions to improve the quality of life of mothers,” said study co-author Wael Sabbah from King’s College London.

“Chronic maternal stress as a potential risk factor is something we need to consider, in addition to the wider implications of maternal wellbeing, social, and psychological environment on dental health,” Sabbah noted.

The researchers analysed data from 716 maternal-child pairs in the US, with children aged two to six years and mothers who were on average between 30 and 36 years of age.

Researchers found that dental cavities were more common among children whose mother had two or more biological markers of chronic stress such as blood pressure and waist circumference, an incident known as allostatic load (AL), compared to no markers of AL.

Additional analysis tested the association between maternal AL and care-taking behaviours, such as breast feeding, dental visits, and eating breakfast daily.

They identified that dental cavities were more common among children whose mother did not breastfeed them, than those who did — 62.9 percent versus 37.1 percent respectively.

Mothers who had one and two or more markers of AL were significantly less likely to breastfeed than those with a normal AL level.

The study also considered the role of socioeconomic status in the relationships.

“Our study indicated that mothers with lower income were significantly less likely to breastfeed or to have taken their child to the dentist in the prior year,” Sabbah said.

The research was published in the American Journal of Public Health.