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Caries Res. 2009;43(1):25-35. doi: 10.1159/000189704. Epub 2009 Jan 9.

Case-control study of early childhood caries in Australia.

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  • 1School of Dentistry, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld., Australia.


The aim of this case-control study of 617 children was to investigate early childhood caries (ECC) risk indicators in a non-fluoridated region in Australia. ECC cases were recruited from childcare facilities, public hospitals and private specialist clinics to source children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Non-ECC controls were recruited from the same childcare facilities. A multinomial logistic modelling approach was used for statistical analysis. The results showed that a large percentage of children tested positive for Streptococcus mutans if their mothers also tested positive. A common risk indicator found in ECC children from childcare facilities and public hospitals was visible plaque (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.0-15.9, and OR 8.7, 95% CI 2.3-32.9, respectively). Compared to ECC-free controls, the risk indicators specific to childcare cases were enamel hypoplasia (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.0-18.3), difficulty in cleaning child's teeth (OR 6.6, 95% CI 2.2-19.8), presence of S. mutans (OR 4.8, 95% CI 0.7-32.6), sweetened drinks (OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.2-13.6) and maternal anxiety (OR 5.1, 95% CI 1.1-25.0). Risk indicators specific to public hospital cases were S. mutans presence in child (OR 7.7, 95% CI 1.3-44.6) or mother (OR 8.1, 95% CI 0.9-72.4), ethnicity (OR 5.6, 95% CI 1.4-22.1), and access of mother to pension or health care card (OR 20.5, 95% CI 3.5-119.9). By contrast, a history of chronic ear infections was found to be protective for ECC in childcare children (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.09-0.82). The biological, socioeconomic and maternal risk indicators demonstrated in the present study can be employed in models of ECC that can be usefully applied for future longitudinal studies.

Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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