Associations Between a History of Breast Feeding, Malocclusion and Parafunctional Habits in Puerto Rican Children

Lydia M. López del Valle, G. Dave-Singh, Nilma Feliciano, María Del Carmen Machuca


Studies relating breast-feeding, malocclusion and parafunctional habits in young children are scarce. Purpose. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the associations of a history of breast-feeding, incidence of malocclusion and parafunctional habits. Methods. The dental records of a sample of 540 children aged 6 to 72 months screened for oral conditions and behavioral risk factors were evaluated for variables such as a history of breastfeeding, malocclusion and parafunctional habits. Descriptive statistics using the EPI-INFO Program and Chi-square test at the 0.05 level of probability were performed. Results. The results showed that the mean age of the children was 28 months ± 14. The mothers’ mean age was 26.4 years ± 6. The prevalence of breast-feeding was 34% with a mean breast-feeding time period of 3 m ± 3.7. About 95% of the children had a history of bottle feeding and 90% showed some evidence of malocclusion at the time of dental examination. The main malocclusion problems were space deficiency (closed contacts among incisors) (31%), open bites (6%) and crossbites (5%). A habit of thumb sucking was reported in 32% of the cases and pacifier use in 21%. There were significant differences for the following variables: mother’s age and breast feeding time period; number of children in family and breast-feeding time period; breast-feeding history and breast-feeding time with bottle use, malocclusion and thumb sucking habit; and gender and thumb-sucking habit. Conclusion. It is concluded that breast-feeding practices and time period are behavioral factors that contribute in the prevention of malocclusion in addition to decreasing the practice of parafunctional habits in preschool children.

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