Nutritional status and feeding practices of First Nations and Metis children and their association with early childhood caries

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Grover, Ramneek S
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Objective – To investigate the baseline nutritional status and feeding practices of First Nations and Metis children in Manitoba participating in a community-based participatory oral health study and whether there were any associations with early childhood caries (ECC). Methods – This cross-sectional study assessed the oral health status of Indigenous children <72 months of age while their parent(s)/caregiver(s) completed a questionnaire, which included the Nutrition Screening Tool for Every Preschooler (NutriSTEP) and questions on children’s dietary practices. The analysis included descriptive statistics, bivariate analyses, and linear regression. A p value ≤0.05 was significant. Results – Overall, 146 children were recruited at a mean age of 40.8±20.4 months, and 59.6% had ECC. The mean decayed, missing, and filled primary teeth (dmft) score was 4.9±5.3 (range 0–20). While the mean NutriSTEP score was 19.9±6.2 (median 19.5) suggesting a low risk for impaired nutritional status, 50.0% of children were at moderate or high risk for impaired nutritional status. There was no significant difference in NutriSTEP scores between First Nations and Metis children (p=0.29), and no association was found between NutriSTEP risk categories and ECC (p=0.77). Children who frequently ate meat, fish, poultry, or alternatives (NutriSTEP Q5) were significantly more likely to have ECC (p=0.032). Children who never received nutritional supplements (NutriSTEP Q13, p=0.05) were significantly more likely to have ECC. Children who used a pacifier were less likely to have ECC than children who did not (p<0.01). Conclusions – Although half of the children classified using the NutriSTEP were at low risk, the other half were at moderate and high risk. Children classified as high risk were not shown to have a statistically significant association with ECC. Specific NutriSTEP questions, however, were shown to be significant for ECC. In addition, numerous childhood feeding practices were found to play a significant role in the prevalence of ECC.
ECC, NutriSTEP, Early Childhood Caries, Nutrition Screening Tool for Every Preschooler, Feeding, Manitoba, First Nations, Metis