Breast-fed children past the age of two could be at higher risk of cavities, say researchers.
Since there hasn’t been many studies looking at how breast-feeding, bottle-feeding and sugar consumption affect children’s risk for cavities — researchers designed a study to examine whether the length of breast-feeding alone is a risk factor for cavities.
Decay and Cavities Begin to Appear in 5-Year-Olds
For the study, scientists examined a group of 5-year-old children who were examined by a dentist for filled, decayed and missing primary teeth.
Nearly one-quarter had severe cavities, or six or more filled, decayed or missing primary teeth. Those breast-fed for two years or more had double the risk of severe cavities than those breast-fed for under one year.
Link to On-Demand Feeding
The reason for the association, say scientists, is what’s called on-demand feeding, especially at night. This means children are fed whenever they signal that they’re hungry — rather than according to a set schedule. This type of feeding makes it difficult to clean teeth.
This is not to say breast-feeding doesn’t have benefits for teeth. Studies show babies breast-fed for just six months are 72% less likely to develop crooked teeth.
Breast Feeding Recommendations
Breast-feeding recommendations vary: The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests one year of breast-feeding and then re-assessing if both mother and child want to keep going; the World Health Organization suggests breast-feeding to go on for as many as two years or more.
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