Women who breastfeed may putting their babies at risk for something that's rarely on a newborn mother's radar: cavities.
to a recent study published in Pediatrics, despite the fact that breastmilk is nutritional AF (and 100
percent free of charge!), moms should be wary one of the common downsides, particuarly for those who nurse their babies well beyond their first 6 months.
For the study, researchers analyzed breastfeeding behaviors and sugar consumption of 1,129 children. What they found was that kids who were breastfed for two years or longer
were 2.4 times more likely to experience severe cavities than those breastfed
for less than a year.
author, Dr. Karen Peres told CNN,
“There are some reasons to explain such an association. First, children who are
exposed to breastfeeding beyond 24 months are usually those breastfed on demand
and at night. Second, higher frequency of breastfeeding and nocturnal
breastfeeding on demand makes it very difficult to clean teeth in this specific
Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding your little sweetheart for six
months before introducing foods or fluids (unless medically required). Beyond
that, they recommend continuing to breastfeed for a year or for as long as is
mutually desired by the mother and baby. But that seems like extended breastfeeders are setting themselves up for long-term problems down the line.
And yet, there are a lot
of things other than breast milk that can lead to tooth decay. Take flavored
water for example. Though packaged as a wholesome alternative for kids, these
drinks often contain high fructose corn syrup or other artificial chemical
sugar substitutes that may not be the best substitute—at least, not everyday. And juice? Naturally occuring fructose is still sugar.
As strange as it
may seem, the best way to avoid stressing over breastfeeding deadlines is to
start brushing baby’s teeth long before they exist. By wiping off
a baby's gums after each feeding with a warm, wet washcloth or dampened
gauze, the odds of experiencing tooth decay later in
life (when they actually have teeth) will be significantly reduced.
Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also urges mothers to avoid nursing children
to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle, since both
can lead to tooth decay, once they start coming in. Experts recommend scheduling a child's
first pediatric dental visit by their first birthday and having their teeth and gums checked regularly.
In the words of
dear old Mom, "It's never too early to start brushing." (By
"early," she means before it’s too late.)
bonding without fear. Your kids will thank you later.