|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 7-11
Infant formula and early childhood caries
Saudamini Girish More, Roopali Sankeshwari, Pratibha A Patil, Sagar S Jalihal, Anil V Ankola
Department of Public Health Dentistry, KAHE's KLE VK Institute of Dental Sciences, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||14-May-2018|
Dr. Saudamini Girish More
Department of Public Health Dentistry, KAHE's KLE VK Institute of Dental Sciences, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
The prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) is increasing worldwide. Impaired oral health could have a negative impact on the overall health of infants. ECC can continue to deteriorate the growth and development of the child in preschool stage. Feeding practices largely influence the occurrence of ECC. Infant formula is commonly used as supplements or substitutes for breast milk up to the first 2 years of age. The dietary sugars such as lactose and sucrose, present in the infant formula, could act as a favorable substrate and change the oral microflora. Infant formula constitutes of various minerals which are known to affect tooth mineralization including iron, fluoride, and calcium. A number of in vitro, animal, and human studies have been conducted to understand their effect on oral environment and microbiota. Exploring the scientific literature for different types of infant formula and their role in the etiopathogenesis of dental caries could give us an insight into the cariogenic potential of infant formula. Furthermore, this could be source of information for health practitioners as they are the ones who are first sought by parents for advice related to infant feeding.
Keywords: Dental caries, infant formula, infant oral health, sucrose
|How to cite this article:|
More SG, Sankeshwari R, Patil PA, Jalihal SS, Ankola AV. Infant formula and early childhood caries. J Dent Res Rev 2018;5:7-11
|How to cite this URL:|
More SG, Sankeshwari R, Patil PA, Jalihal SS, Ankola AV. Infant formula and early childhood caries. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 31];5:7-11. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2018/5/1/7/232360
| Introduction|| |
Early childhood caries (ECC) is considered to be the most prevalent disease and contributes to unmet health needs among children. ECC is defined as the presence of one or more decayed (noncavitated or cavitated), missing due to caries, or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a child aged 71 months or younger. Dental caries is a disease of multifactorial etiology. The key microorganisms causing ECC is mutans streptococci (MS) which comprise Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus while the other microorganisms include Lactobacillus and Streptococcus sanguis. Other common factors for causing ECC include feeding during the night, frequency of exposure to foods, and foods having higher sucrose content.
The World Health Organization has recommended feeding infants with human's milk and infant formulas up to the age of 2 years. Bovine milk can only be introduced after 6 months of age. However, there exists a discrepancy of opinion between pediatricians and dentists regarding the duration of infant feeding. This is mainly because the sugars present in breast milk and infant formulas act as favorable substrate for initiation of dental caries. Hence, this review compiles the literature about infant formula and its possible contribution in dental caries formation.
| Methodology|| |
A literature search was carried out on infant formula and its role in the causation of ECC. PubMed/Medline and Google Scholar databases were searched using the following keywords: “infant formula,” “dental caries,” “early childhood caries,” and “infant feeding.” A total of ten articles which were found relevant from January 1993 to October 2017 are included in the review.
| Infant Oral Microbiota|| |
The microbiota inhabiting in the oral cavity and other parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract develops from sterility at birth into the most heavily colonized parts of the human body. Different environmental conditions can lead to distinct bacterial communities at the different anatomical niches of the GI tract. There are over 700 taxa which have been identified in the colon and mouth. However, minimal species overlap between the two sites.
Establishment of stable bacterial ecosystems in the GI tract, including the mouth, evolves during a period of microbial variation chiefly during the first 2 years of life. The initial colonizers are facultatively anaerobic in genera, such as streptococci and Actinomyces. These are succeeded by more strictly anaerobic genera, such as Bifidobaterium in the gut and Veillonella in the mouth.
| Infant Formula|| |
It is an alternative to breast milk for feeding the child and is obtained from other human (surrogate mothers) or another mammal. The most frequently used sources include the cow, sheep, and goat.
Numerous health organizations, including the World Health Organization (2002), the American Academy of Pediatrics (1997), the American Academy of Family Physicians (2003), and various others, promote breastfeeding as the ideal form of nutrition for infants during the 1st year of life. Even so, a vast majority of infants in various parts of the world are fed human's milk substitutes since the age of 6 months. Even though these food sources are inferior to human's milk in multiple respects, it promotes more efficient growth, development, and nutrient balance than commercially available cow's milk. It is recommended that infants who are not breastfed should consume iron-fortified infant formulas rather than cow's or goat's milk until 12 months of age by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Infant formulas can be used as substitutes or supplements for human's milk. Infant formulas are commonly recommended in low birth weight babies, cases of malnutrition, emergency situations such as famines, vulnerable groups, HIV-positive mother, and lactose intolerant babies.
Infant formulas are of two types: cow's milk-based formulas and noncow's milk-based formulas. [Table 1] shows the history and development of infant formula.
By the early 20th century, it was clear that cow's milk was most likely the best animal-milk base to work with but that certain modifications were needed to make it safe and palatable for human infants. These modifications included removing animal fat and substituting vegetable oils, diluting the protein content for the newborn's relatively immature renal tubular system, and adding or balancing minerals and vitamins (e.g., adding iron, adjusting the calcium:phosphorus ratio).
| Essential Composition|| |
Infant formula is a milk-based product obtained from cows or other animals or a mixture of other ingredients which have been proven to be suitable for infant feeding. All ingredients and food additives should be gluten free. Infant formula prepared ready for consumption in accordance with instructions of the manufacturer should contain per 100 ml not <60 kcal (250 kJ) and not >70 kcal (295 kJ) of energy. The composition of infant formulas includes protein, lipid, carbohydrate, linoleic acid, vitamins, and minerals in standardized ranges. When prepared according to the label directions for use, the product should be free of lumps and of large coarse particles and suitable for adequate feeding of young infants. The ingredients should be clean, of good quality, safe and suitable for ingestion by infants. Furthermore, the normal quality requirements, such as color, flavor, and odor, are assessed. Various thickeners and acidity regulators are also added to it. The product and its component should not have been treated by ionizing irradiation. Thus, the nutritional safety and adequacy of the formula should be scientifically demonstrated to support growth and development of infants.
The carbohydrate content in infant formula is predominantly distributed among lactose, sucrose, maltose, or glucose. Formulas highest in sucrose are alternatives to lactose-containing milk-based formulas. The grams of total sugars per se rving ranged from 1.28 to 11.16 g. Some products are found to be containing 12 g of sugar per se rving.
Various in vitro studies conducted on rat teeth [Table 2] and human teeth [Table 3] have tried to evaluate the cariogenic potential of infant formulas. Some in vivo studies [Table 4] have also tried to compare the cariogenic potential of commercially available infant formulas.
Breast milk provides nutrition for the infant and is a source of lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and streptococci., However, components of breast milk inhibit growth and attachment of the cariogenic bacteria, S. mutans in particular. A study conducted by Holgerson et al. revealed that the Lactobacillus counts in the oral cavity were higher in breastfed as compared to formula-fed infants. They also concluded that lactobacilli species had an inhibitory effect on MS. This suggested that formula-fed infants were at higher risk of developing dental caries. A systematic review compared various commercially available infant formulas; however, limited evidence was found regarding the cariogenic effect of infant formulas.
| Effect of Fluoride|| |
Fluoride has been established as a caries-preventing agent when used in systemic or topical formulations. Evidence from studies conducted in the USA, Australia, and Brazil suggests that there is a higher concentration of fluoride in infant formulas., Some studies have also reported that formula fed infants had lesser caries prevalence as compared to nonformula fed., However, in a study conducted by Peres et al., the MS counts were higher in Wistar rats which were given fluoride-supplemented infant formulas as compared to human's or cow's milk. This was mainly attributed to higher concentration of sucrose and reducing sugars present in the infant formulas. A study has shown that the fluoride level in infant formulas available in India is slightly less than the optimal fluoride requirement in milk.
| Cariogenic Potential of Human's Milk and Cow's Milk|| |
The prevalence of dental caries caused by cow's milk is relatively low as compared to human's milk. In comparison with cow's milk, breast milk has a low mineral content, higher concentration of lactose (7% vs. 3%), and lower protein content (1.2 g/100 ml vs. 3.3 g/100 ml). Thus, cow's milk could have a better remineralization potential of teeth.
| Cariogenic Potential of Infant Formulas|| |
Carbohydrates used in formula are mainly sucrose and lactose. Sucrose is considered to be the most cariogenic dietary carbohydrate, fermentable by the oral bacteria. This process results in reduction of pH in the oral cavity causing dental caries. It also acts as a substrate for the formation of extra- and intra-cellular polysaccharides in dental plaque. These biofilms have more cariogenic potential. Lactose is less readily fermented by S. mutans as compared to sucrose.
| Conclusions|| |
Various studies conducted showed that infant formulas containing sucrose and/or corn syrup solids are more acidogenic and hence more cariogenic than lactose-containing formulas. Furthermore, in the study conducted by Erickson et al. which compared the cariogenic potential of different infant formulas, sucrose water, and bovine milk, it revealed that bovine milk was least cariogenic. Formulas containing casein are proven to be less cariogenic than others. Low-iron formulas can cause increase in the S. mutans biofilm formation as compared to normal iron containing at dilution.
Health practitioners should take into consideration the composition of infant formula before recommending them. Since pediatricians and dentists are more likely to see infants and toddlers, they are in a better position to advice parents regarding early initiation of oral hygiene practices for the prevention of ECC.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]