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Prolonged bottle-feeding linked to tooth decay

Prolonged use of the bottle can lead to tooth decay and nutritional deficiencies in young children, as per a new study.

Prolonged bottle-feeding linked to tooth decay

A simple, five-minute conversation with parents during their baby's regularly scheduled 9-month checkup can help their child stop bottle-feeding. The 9-month checkup is a good time to schedule this consultation because no routine vaccinations are scheduled, allowing for  time to have a conversation about nutrition in the second and third years of life. Also, it is easy to wean off the bottle at 9 months of age because the older a baby , the harder it gets to modify its  behaviour.

Milk (cow's or breast milk), formula and any other sugary drinks contain carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates come in contact with the bacteria in the mouth, they produce acids that cause the enamel on a baby's new teeth to erode and leads to early tooth decay.
To determine whether educating parents of infants could reduce bottle use and iron depletion at 2 years of age, researchers studied 201 healthy 9 months old Canadian infants. The participants were assigned randomly to intervention and control group. Parents in the intervention group were introduced to a week protocol to wean off their children from bottle. Iron depletion and bottle use at 2 years of age was assessed in all the children.

The doctors started off giving the children's parents standard health information during the visit. Half of the parents also had the five-minute conversation about the risks of continued bottle use. These parents were given a sippy cup and step-by-step instructions on how wean the child off the bottle and on to the sippy cup within a week.

A 60 percent reduction in prolonged bottle use was found when doctors made a point of raising the subject at the 9-month checkup. But no decrease in iron depletion at 2 years of age was found. Milk consumption and iron depletion was not significant in both the groups. However, the infants in the intervention group started using cups 3 months earlier and weaned from the bottle 4 months earlier than the other group.

The researchers concluded that prolonged use of the bottle can lead to tooth decay and nutritional deficiencies in young children. Waiting later can make it harder to make the transition. However, this simple intervention administered during a health maintenance visit can result in a substantial reduction in prolonged bottle use.
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