A high intake of cheese during pregnancy may reduce the risk of dental decay during childhood, a study has revealed.
Dairy products and calcium intake during pregnancy and dental caries in children, which was published by researchers from Fukuoka University, the University of Tokyo and Osaka, investigated the link between maternal intake of dairy products and calcium during pregnancy and the risk of tooth decay during childhood.
Data from 315 Japanese mother-child pairs was collected by researcher including maternal intake during pregnancy through a diet history questionnaire. The children’s teeth were then checked, between the age of 41 and 50 months, for one or more example of primary tooth decay or filling.
The collected data suggested that a high intake of maternal cheese during pregnancy may reduce the risk of childhood dental caries.
However, the researchers were unable to confirm that calcium was responsible for the protective effect.
The report attempted to discover if maternal nutrition status during pregnancy affect foetal tooth development, formation, mineralisation and dental decay susceptibility in children.
“Primary tooth formation and mineralisation usually begins at the 13th week of gestation. Higher maternal calcium intake during pregnancy might influence tooth mineralisation, causing tooth enamel to be more acid-resistant,” said the report.
“Our results suggested that high intake of maternal cheese during pregnancy may reduce the risk of dental caries in children. Higher intake of total dairy products, yogurt, and calcium during pregnancy tended to be associated with a lower risk of dental caries in children.”
“These data suggested that high intake of maternal cheese during pregnancy may reduce the risk of childhood dental caries,” the report said.
“Further studies are needed to replicate our findings and to clarify the mechanisms underlying the possible inverse associations between maternal intake of dairy products and calcium and the risk of dental caries in children.”
No immediate explanation
It is believed that this was the first study to assess any possible inverse link between maternal calcium intake during pregnancy and childhood tooth decay.
The report added that the risk reduction associated with maternal intake of cheese during pregnancy did not appear to be compounded by calcium intake.
“We have no immediate explanation for the potential mechanisms underlying the observed inverse association between cheese intake and dental caries,” said the report.
“Thus components of cheese other than calcium might be responsible for the protective effects of maternal cheese intake against dental caries in children. Alternatively, high maternal intake of cheese may simply reflect a healthier diet and/or lifestyle in general,” it added.