Chronic Maternal Stress linked to childhood cavities
For the first time Chronic Maternal Stress has been linked to a higher prevalence of cavities in children.
A recent study undertaken by King’s College London and the University of Washington has uncovered that Chronic Maternal Stress can be linked to lower probabilities of breastfeeding and dental visits. Researchers found dental cavities were more common in children whose mother had two or more indicators of chronic stress, an incident known as “allostatic load” (or AL), compared to children with mother’s displaying no markers of chronic stress. Analysis then tested the association between maternal AL and care-taking behaviours such as breastfeeding, dental visits, and providing daily breakfast. It was discovered that the percentage of cavities in children not provided with the above care had risen by half when compared to children who had been breastfed and provided with routine breakfasts in conjunction with regular dental check-ups.
What is Chronic Maternal Stress?
Stress is part of most people’s every-day life and in some cases can be beneficial; producing a boost that helps the individual’s drive and energy to meet deadlines and push through situations like exams. However, in most cases these stresses are short-lived, subsiding once the deadline is met. For individuals who suffer chronic stress, this is not the case at all. An extreme amount of stress can take a severe emotional toll on the individual, proving to be not only psychologically but also physically debilitating. Further side-effects can include insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, all of which are extremely detrimental not only to a new mother, but also to an unborn or new born baby. These symptoms of stress have the ability to impair the affected person’s ability to perform daily tasks.
Chronic Maternal Stress has been linked to women from a lower socio-economic status, with concerns regarding family and/or financial stability.
How does Chronic Maternal Stress affect your baby?
Most people are aware of the effects drinking, drugs and cigarettes can have on your unborn baby’s health, but did you know unborn babies are extremely sensitive to the mother’s stress levels while in the womb? Researchers have linked the level of exposure to cortisol (a stress hormone) while in the womb to increased cortisol spikes in response to their first draw of blood, infants with higher cortisol exposure proved harder to settle. The effects of raised cortisol levels during pregnancy were also prevalent after the birth of the baby. While exposed to a recording of their baby’s cries, mothers suffering Chronic Stress also displayed reduced brain activity in the areas of the brain linked to maternal behaviours. In turn this is thought to affect the mother’s resolution to breastfeed as well as ability to maintain regular activities such as dental check-ups, and providing breakfast daily.
Breastfeeding and your baby’s oral health
Breastfeeding is commonly known as the most preferred method to nourish your baby during his or her infancy (providing the mother is able). Did you know this can also benefit your baby’s oral health? Because the baby has to actually suck for the milk to be expressed, the baby has to swallow what is in his or her mouth. This limits the amount of contact with the baby’s gums or growing teeth, unlike a baby fed from a bottle which can drip into the mouth even if the baby isn’t actively suckling. This can cause pooling at the front of the mouth/gum area. Breastfeeding has also been linked to better jaw structure/tooth development than babies who are left to suckle on bottles, although the presence of a pacifier may negate some of those benefits.
Chronic Maternal Stress and childhood cavities with Dr Curtis Couch
If you feel you or someone you love may be suffering from chronic stress, contact your healthcare practitioner. To start your regular oral health check-ups, or discuss your children’s oral health contact us at Thousand Oaks today.