| C-Sections Linked To Higher
Cavity Risk In Babies
Women with dental cavities who deliver their babies by Caesarean
section should pay close attention to their babies' dental health
later on, a new study suggests.
Researchers from New York University found that a cavity-causing
bacterium that grows on tooth surfaces appeared much earlier in
babies delivered by C-section than in those delivered vaginally.
The study evaluated 156 mother-infant pairs.
"We are the first to report that there is a link between C-sections
and the acquisition of cavity-causing bacteria in the baby," said
Dr. Yihong Li, an associate professor of basic science and craniofacial
biology at the New York University College of Dentistry.
Li, who is lead author of the study, added that the researchers
did not study whether the babies delivered by C-section actually
got more cavities later, but only that they had more cavity-causing
The study appears in the September issue of the Journal of
Dental Research .
The reason for the findings? Li suspects that vaginally delivered
infants, because of exposure to a greater variety and intensity
of bacteria from their mothers and the surrounding environment
at birth, develop more resistance to the cavity-causing germ than
do C-section babies, who have less bacterial exposure at birth.
The women in the study were mostly black women from an inner-city
area of Birmingham, Ala. In all, 127 of the women had vaginal
deliveries and 29 had C-sections. Their mean age was approximately
21 years, and about 75 percent of the women had cavities. Li and
her team then started collecting saliva and plaque samples from
the babies to evaluate them for bacterium.
The bacterium, Streptococcus mutans , was detected in
55 of the 156 infants, on average at 22.3 months of age. But the
C-section infants acquired the germ at 17.1 months of age, compared
to 28.8 for the vaginally delivered babies.
Dr. Edmond Hewlett, an associate professor of dentistry at the
University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry and
a consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, called
the study sound.
"What's new here is the association between the time of infection
with bacteria that cause cavities and the type of delivery," he
said. It has been known that the primary route of infection for
cavity-causing bacteria is mother to infant, he said.
Even so, the new study findings "shouldn't affect the decision
for women to have a C-section," Hewlett added.
The take-home message for mothers, Li said, is this: "If the
mother has very poor oral health, she really needs to pay attention
to her [baby's oral health] if she delivers C-section."
"Don't share spoons with your baby," Hewlett tells mothers, especially
those who have cavities. "Chewing gum with Xylitol in it after
eating is a good way to clear the mouth of bacteria."
To learn more about preventing cavities, visit the American
Dental Association .
SOURCES: Yihong Li, Dr.P.H., D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor
of basic science and craniofacial biology, New York University
College of Dentistry, New York City; Edmond Hewlett, D.D.S., associate
professor of dentistry, University of California, Los Angeles,
and consumer advisor, American Dental Association; September 2005,
Journal of Dental Research
Reference Source 62
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