OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to compare prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) in 1- to 3-year-old children seeing primary-care pediatricians at two urban medical centers in Boston to the prevalence of ECC in similarly aged US children surveyed as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) and to assess risk factors for ECC among this cohort of children compared with risk factors among similarly aged US children.
METHODS: Characteristics of 787 1- to 3-year-old children from two urban Boston medical centers were compared with those of 3,644 similarly aged US children surveyed as part of NHANES III. Demographic and social characteristics and ECC prevalence by putative risk factors were compared. A multiple logistic regression model was fit to assess putative risk factors and difference between groups simultaneously.
RESULTS: Race, age, previous dental visit, parents’ education, and household income were significantly associated with ECC prevalence. Parents’ place of birth was a significant effect modifier with lower ECC among Boston children of immigrants than among US children of immigrants.
CONCLUSIONS: Lower ECC prevalence among urban Boston children of immigrant parents compared with US children of immigrant parents may reflect changing immigrant composition in the United States since NHANES III or a different immigrant composition in the Boston area compared with the United States. This finding reinforces the need for further research of immigrants in order to understand cultural practices that may affect oral health. Finally, low ECC prevalence among very young children reinforces the importance of early intervention in reducing ECC.