Neighborhood and family social capital and parent-reported oral health of children in Iowa

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A growing body of evidence supports the impact of social factors on oral health disparities in children in the United States. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between two types of social capital—family and neighborhood—and the parent-reported oral health of Iowa's children.


We analyzed results from a 2010 cross-sectional statewide health survey. The outcome was parent-reported child oral health status, and the five primary independent variables were neighborhood social capital and four separate indicators of family social capital. Data were analyzed using a mixed-effects linear regression with a random effect for zip code.


Significant positive associations were found between child oral health status and neighborhood social capital (P = 0.005) and one indicator of family social capital, family frequency of eating meals together (P = 0.02), after adjusting for covariates.


This study adds to the growing body of literature around the social determinants of oral health. Our findings indicate that the oral health of children may be influenced by broad social factors such as neighborhood and family social capital.

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