Health problems of premature infants can affect both general and oral health.
The enamel defects, poor dietary and oral hygiene habits may predispose these children to dental caries. This study was conducted to assess the impact of very low birth weight and prematurity on caries risk in early childhood.
The study cohort consists of 189 of one year old infants. Anamnestic data were obtained from hospital records, feeding practice, bed-time sugar drinks and oral hygiene onset from questionnaires. Saliva samples of children and their mothers were collected for the detection of cariogenic pathogens.
VLBW newborns had significantly shorter gestation age (29.6 vs. 38.8)) and lower mean birthweight (1124 g vs 3315 g) compared to NBW ones (p < 0.0001). Statistical significance has been found in the presence of early morbidity (p < 0.0001) and regular medication intake (p = 0.007). VLBW children got more frequently sweetened drinks during the day and night (p = 0.007). Regular oral hygiene practice was more frequent in full term group (p = 0.002). There was statistical difference in the presence of enamel hypoplasia in VLBW children (p = 0.033) but no statistical difference in the presence of hypomineralization (p = 0.0736) in comparison to NBW individuals. Proportional representation and count of S. mutans did not reveal statistical difference neither in both groups of children (p = 0.484) nor in both groups of mothers (p = 0.385).
The study confirmed anamnestic and medical differences between both groups. The proportional representation and count of S. mutans did not reveal statistical difference neither in VLBW and NBW children, nor in their mothers.