A systematic review of the relationship between breastfeeding and early childhood caries.
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This systematic review investigated the relationship between early childhood caries (ECC) and breastfeeding. The systematic review methodology used by the Cochrane Collaboration was modified and adopted for this review. 28 of 151 articles (18.5%) were relevant for the study and were rated as strong (0), moderate (3), weak (9) or very weak (16). Validity scores indicated whether a study met the reviewer's criteria for research rigour. The percentage of studies that received a passing score for each criterion examined were: study design (3.6%), confounders (21%), data collection method (54%), definition of ECC (57%), dental health practices (28%) and infant feeding practices (4%). A lack of methodological consistency related to the study of the association of breastfeeding and ECC, and inconsistent definitions of ECC and breastfeeding, make it difficult to draw conclusions. Moderate articles indicate that breastfeeding for over one year and at night beyond eruption of teeth may be associated with ECC. Due to conflicting findings in less rigorous research studies, no definitive time at which an infant should be weaned was determined, and parents should begin an early and consistent mouth care regime.
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