Breastfeeding can promote a baby’s dental health, study finds
“While most benefits of breastfeeding can be attributed to the breast-milk, this study highlights one of the ways that the actual act of breastfeeding imparts its own benefits,” said Dr Joanna Pierro, a paediatric chief resident at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
“While it’s well established that exclusively breastfed babies are at a decreased risk of dental misalignment this study revealed the differences between those exclusively breastfed versus those who are predominantly breastfed,” said Pierro.
“Since many breastfed babies today are partially fed breast-milk from a bottle, this research reveals how this difference affects the oral cavity,” she added.
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Breastfed children didn’t have as many teeth or jaw misalignment problems
The researchers, led by Karen Peres at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breastfed at three months, one year and two years old. The study authors also asked how often the children used a pacifier, if at all, when the kids were three months, one year, two and four. About 40% of the children used a pacifier daily for four years.
When the children were five, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, crossbite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.
The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breastfed for three to six months compared to those who didn’t, the findings showed. If they breastfed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44%.
Similarly, children who exclusively breastfed for three months to six months were 41% less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breastfeeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72%.
While the study found an association between breastfeeding and dental health, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.