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Infant health research

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The research below covers the links between breastfeeding and dental malocclusion and caries.

Blog: Breastfeeding after 12 months and dental decay 

In this blog post, Emma Pickett, Breastfeeding counsellor & IBCLC and Chair of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, analyses claims that breastfeeding after 12 months promotes dental decay in babies and young children and highlights how these messages are often based on low-quality evidence and studies. A statement from Public Health England (2019) is included which reads: “Breastfeeding is the physiological norm against which other behaviours are compared; therefore, dental teams should promote breastfeeding and include in their advice the risks of not breastfeeding to general and oral health … Since 2001 the WHO has recommended that mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods as breastfeeding continues up to the age of two years or beyond. These guidelines were reiterated in the WHO’s Global Strategy (WHO, 2003) and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).”

Read more on Emma Pickett’s blog here. 

Comparative evaluation of the effects of human breast milk and plain and probiotic-containing infant formulas on enamel mineral content in primary teeth: an in vitro study

Findings from this study indicate that breastmilk may have protective effects against the demineralisation of infant teeth, with results showing an increased mean calcium wt% when soaked in breastmilk for one week. In comparison, plain and supplemented infant formula promoted mineral loss from enamel surface.

Aly AAM, Erfan D, Abou El Fadl RK. Comparative evaluation of the effects of human breast milk and plain and probiotic-containing infant formulas on enamel mineral content in primary teeth: an in vitro study. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2020 Feb;21(1):75-84. doi: 10.1007/s40368-019-00448-2. Epub 2019 May 23. PMID: 31124082.

Older research 

  • Risks of Dental Malocclusion

Glazer Peres, K et al (2015) Exclusive Breastfeeding and Risk of Dental Malocclusion. Pediatrics, (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3276)

  • Breastfeeding and the risk of dental caries

Tham, R. et al (2015). Breastfeeding and the risk of dental caries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatrica, Special Issue: Impact of Breastfeeding on Maternal and Child Health. Volume 104, Issue Supplement S467, pages 62-84.

Related research and further reading