Stress during pregnancy may affect children’s dental health

The children of mothers who suffered from chronic maternal stress during pregnancy have a higher prevalence of cavities, according to researchers from King's College London and the University of Washington.

Chronic stress was also linked to lower probabilities of breast feeding and dental visits by children, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers analyzed data from over 700 children, 2 to 6 years old, and the health of their mothers by assessing biological markers and factors such as cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and triglycerides.

The researchers found that 44.2 percent of children whose mother suffered from chronic stress have dental cavities. That's significantly higher than 27.9 percent of children whose parent did not have chronic stress.

Dr. Wael Sabbah, co-author of the study, said that 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.

"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," she said.

A cavity, or tooth decay, is the destruction of tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults, according to MouthHealthy.org.

To read the study, visit ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302729. For more on pregnancy and dental health, visit MouthHealthy.org/en/pregnancy.

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