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Am J Public Health. 2015 Dec;105(12):2510-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302798. Epub 2015 Oct 15.

Early Childhood Caries, Mouth Pain, and Nutritional Threats in Vietnam.

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Linh Ngo Khanh, Susan L. Ivey, Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, Howard Barkan, Kimberly M. Ngo, Ivy Vuong, and Nam Thai are with Health Research for Action, University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Hung T. Hoang is with University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.



We investigated the relationships among early childhood caries (ECC), mouth pain, and nutritional status in children aged 1 to 6 years in Southern and Central Vietnam.


A total of 593 parent-child pairs were recruited from 5 kindergartens or preschools in Ho-Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Parents completed surveys about dietary habits, oral health practices, and children's mouth pain experience; children received anthropometric assessment and dental examinations.


There was a high prevalence of dental caries (74.4%), mostly untreated, and mouth pain (47.1%). Moderate correlations were found between parents' and children's consumption of soda (ρ = 0.361; P < .001) and salty snacks (ρ = 0.292; P < .001). Severity of ECC was associated with decreased weight- and body mass index-for-age z-scores. Presence of pulp-involved caries was associated with strikingly lower height-for-age (mean difference = 0.66; P = .001), weight-for-age (mean difference = 1.17; P < .001), and body mass index-for-age (mean difference = 1.18; P < .001) z-scores. Mouth pain was associated with lower body mass index-for-age z-scores (mean difference = 0.29; P = .013).


ECC might negatively affect children's nutritional status, which might be mediated by the depth of decay, chronic inflammation, and mouth pain. Family-based and prevention-oriented nutrition and oral health programs are needed and should start during pregnancy and infancy.

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