Research explores maternal nutrition’s impact on tooth decay in children

Baby Mom Hand

Researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York are collaborating to investigate the connection between maternal nutrition and the oral microbiomes of infants.

Led by Dr. Jin Xiao and Dr. Brenda Abu, the study will explore relationships between perinatal nutritive and nonnutritive behavior and their impact on the oral microbiomes of infants and children, specifically infants’ early-life oral yeast colonization. Xiao and Abu will also explore microbial compositions of pica substances. 

Pica is the compulsive consumption of nonfood items that lack nutritional value. Previous reports suggest that pica occurs most often in women and children. 

Nonfood substances consumed include seemingly harmless items, such as ice, or dangerous materials, such as dried paint, clay, soil, or metal. Pica may cause infections and deplete iron stores in pregnant women. 

The researchers stated that their study could inform prenatal counseling for underserved women and predict and prevent severe tooth decay in young children. Xiao led previous research on underserved racial and ethnic minority groups which showed that the presence of certain bacteria and yeast in the mother’s mouth increases her child’s risk of developing tooth decay. 

Abu is receiving a two-year $380,000 award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Abu stated that the study will influence the scope of her international research, which focuses on micronutrient nutrition and its consequences among women and children living in Ghana.

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