Prenatal education reduced mutans streptococci levels and sugar intake

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Mutans streptococci (mutans)  have an important role in dental caries. Individuals having high levels of these organisms being considered to be a higher risk of  disease.  The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a prenatal nutrition intervention to reduce sugar intake and mutans in  low-income women.

Pregnant women ≥18 years of age; with high  mutans levels ( > 10 000 colony forming units/ml) were randomized to receive education alone (Control) or education and a 1-hour nutrition group session at 9 months and 6 weeks postpartum (Test).  Mutans and questionnaire data were collected at baseline, 9 months, 6 weeks, and 3 months postpartum. Sugar intake was assessed by the Food Frequency Questionnaire and clinical information was abstracted from medical charts.

They found

  • 120 completed the baseline visit and 93 (77%) completed all four visits.
  • The mean age of the participants was 26.3 years
  • 73% were Hispanic, 29% had lived in the United States < 6 years;
  • 48% completed high school; 27% were married;
  • mean total sugar intake at baseline was 149 g (SD = 85).
  • Repeated measures analysis of variance showed that mutans levels declined significantly in both groups, but that the control group had significantly lower mutans levels at the final assessment compared with test group.
  • Sugar intake also declined significantly, but there were no significant differences between groups.

The authors concluded

 The study demonstrated the following: a) the feasibility of conducting the intervention at community health centre sites among low-income pregnant women; b) the effectiveness of education to reduce mutans/sugar intake; and c) the need to improve the nutrition intervention to obtain additional gains in mutans

Reisine, S., Douglass, J., Aseltine, R., Shanley, E., Thompson, C. and Thibodeau, E. (2011), Prenatal nutrition intervention to reduce mutans streptococci among low-income women. Journal of Public Health Dentistry. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2011.00286.x


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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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