Perinatal health and malocclusions in preschool children: Findings from a cohort of adolescent mothers in Southern Brazil

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Pregnancy in adolescence has long-term consequences that can negatively influence oral conditions. In this study, we aimed to assess malocclusion in deciduous dentition and its association with prolonged breastfeeding, pacifier use, and perinatal health indicators pertaining to the periods immediately before and after birth.


This cross-sectional study was nested in a cohort of adolescent mothers who became pregnant from 13 to 19 years of age (mean age, 17.3 ± 1.6 years). A total of 509 mother-child dyads were included. Information on perinatal indicators, including Apgar score (0-10), which is a standardized assessment of the condition of the infant at birth (heart rate, breath rate, muscle tone, reflex irritability, and skin color), head circumference, birth weight, and need for intensive care unit admission were collected after delivery through interviews with the mothers. By the time the children were 24 to 36 months of age, malocclusion was assessed, and information on the use of pacifiers and breastfeeding was collected. Multivariate Poisson regression was used to assess the effect of independent variables on the outcome (malocclusion).


The prevalence of malocclusion was 62.33%, and open bite was the most frequent one (47.45%). After adjustments, children with no need for intensive care unit admission had a lower risk of malocclusion (prevalence ratio [PR] = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.56-0.99), whereas those with an Apgar score less than 7 had a higher risk (PR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.06-1.64). Children who had used a pacifier (PR = 1.82; 95% CI, 1.02-3.24) or were still using it (PR = 3.88; 95% CI, 2.65-5.68) had a higher chance of malocclusion compared with children who never used a pacifier. Children breastfeeding for 24 months or longer were less likely to have malocclusion (PR = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.34-0.73).


Poor perinatal health and pacifier use may be risk factors for malocclusion development in deciduous teeth. Long duration of breastfeeding is associated with better occlusal conditions in children of adolescent mothers. Further studies are needed with other age groups.

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