Birth weight, breastfeeding, maternal smoking and caries trajectories

E. Bernabe, H. MacRitchie, C. Longbottom, N. B. Pitts, W. Sabbah

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence for the effects of low birth weight, breastfeeding and maternal smoking on childhood caries is mainly cross-sectional. We examined the association of these 3 putative early life factors with caries increment over a 4-y period among young children. We used data from a 4-y longitudinal caries-risk assessment study carried out among Scottish children. Early life factors were measured when children were aged 1 y (baseline). Caries assessment was repeated annually from ages 1 to 4, and the number of decayed, missing and filled primary tooth surfaces (dmfs) were used as a repeated outcome measure. The associations of low birth weight, breastfeeding and maternal smoking with dmfs at baseline and over time (trajectories) were assessed in linear mixed models. A total of 1,102 children were included in this analysis. Birth weight, breastfeeding and maternal smoking were not associated with dmfs at baseline. However, low birth weight and maternal smoking were associated with the rate of change in dmfs. By wave 4, the predicted mean difference in dmfs was 1.86 between children with low and normal birth weight, and 1.66 between children of smoking and non-smoking mothers. Children with low birth weight and smoking mothers had greater caries increments than those with normal weight and non-smoking mothers, respectively. There was no association between breastfeeding duration and childhood caries, either at baseline or over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Dental caries
  • Tobacco smoke pollution
  • Low infant birth weight
  • Cohort studies
  • Child
  • Multilevel analysis


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