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Calcium Intake During Pregnancy Reduces Tooth Decay in Children

by Deesha Patel

Previous research has indicated the impact of maternal nutrition during pregnancy on the development of chronic disease in the offspring later on in life. A low birth weight of the offspring, often a result of malnutrition, has been associated with cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Low birth weight has also been linked to glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. Animal studies have shown that low birth weight associated with a low protein intake during pregnancy increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and hypertension in the offspring. Others diseases that may be associated with malnutrition during pregnancy include breast cancer, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic renal failure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and schizophrenia. Furthermore, maternal nutrition may also reduce dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, in the offspring.

Bergel et al. conducted a follow-up study of a 1987 randomized controlled trial, which evaluated the effect of calcium supplementation during pregnancy to reduce hypertensive disorders. Participants were randomized into the placebo group or the treatment group, which consisted of taking 500 mg of calcium carbonate four times per day. These participants were contacted again in 2000 to take part in Bergel et al.’s study. The original participants completed questionnaires regarding the dental care of their 12-year-old children. The children were examined for the number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth in permanent (DMFT) and primary (dmft) teeth, as well as the number of delayed, missing, and filled surfaces in permanent (DMFS) and primary (dmfs) teeth. The dental examiner was blinded as to whether or not the mother received calcium during the original trial.

The analysis of the questionnaire revealed that there were no relevant differences in regards to dental care of the children between the placebo group and treatment group. This increases the possibility that tooth decay in this population was attributable to a lack of calcium supplementation during pregnancy. Bergel et al. found that the children whose mothers were in the placebo group had a higher proportion of at least one DMFT/dmft, compared to the children whose mothers were in the treatment group (86.6% vs. 63.3%). The children of the mothers in the placebo group were also more likely to have DMFS/dmfs than the children of the mothers in the treatment group (mean of 4.4 vs. 3.1). Both of these differences were statistically significant. The researchers concluded that calcium supplementation during pregnancy portrayed a significant reduction in tooth decay at 12 years of age.

1. Martin-Gronert MS, Ozanne SE. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy and health of the offspring. Inform Process Manag. 2006;34.2. Mayo Clinic staff. Cavities/tooth decay. Mayo Clinic. April 28, 2009. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cavities/DS00896. 3. Bergel E, Gibbons L, Rasines MG, Luetich A, Belizan JM. Maternal calcium supplementation during pregnancy and dental caries of children at 12 years of age: follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Acta Obstet Gyn Scan. 2010;89.

This article was published on Wednesday January 05, 2011.
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