Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Feeding frequency in infancy and dental caries in childhood: a prospective cohort study

Published Web Location


Feeding patterns in infancy are plausible contributors to dental caries later in childhood, yet relatively few cohort studies have examined potential dietary risk factors at this age. This study aimed to investigate the associations between feeding frequency at age 12 months and caries prevalence at age 3 years.


In this prospective birth cohort of 345 Brazilian children, all foods and drinks consumed at age 12 months, including bottle-use and breastfeeding, were recorded using two 24-hour infant dietary recalls with mothers. The prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) and severe ECC (S-ECC) at age 38 months were compared in groups defined according to 12-month feeding frequency, using regression models to adjust for sociodemographic characteristics and total carbohydrate intake.


Independent of other variables, compared with children with infrequent bottle-use and breastfeeding at 12 months, at 38 months the ECC prevalence was 1.8-times higher in children breastfed more than three times/day (P = 0.001), 1.4-times higher in children bottle-fed more than three times/day (P = 0.07) and 1.5-times higher with combined high frequency of bottle and breastfeeding together (P = 0.04), but the association with consumption of other foods or drinks more than five times/day [risk ratio (RR) = 1.2; P = 0.10] was not statistically significant. Prevalence of S-ECC was significantly associated with frequent breastfeeding (RR = 2.4; P < 0.001) and with greater frequency of consumption of other foods or drinks (RR = 1.7, P = 0.001).


High-frequency feeding in late infancy, including both bottle use and breastfeeding, were positively associated with dental caries in early childhood, suggesting possible early-life targets for caries prevention.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View