Baby Teeth May Help Predict Mental Health Risks In Later Life

Baby Teeth May Help Predict Mental Health News

Mental Health News– Study found that thickness of growth lines in baby teeth may one day help in identifying children at risk for depression and other mental health disorders later in life.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Bristol examined 70 baby teeth collected from 70 children who were enrolled in the Children of the 90s study. The neonatal line (NNL) of the teeth was measured by using microscopes. Before this analysis, the researchers asked the mothers to complete questionnaires during and immediately after their pregnancy. The questionnaires included queries about stressful events during their prenatal period, neighborhood quality, level of social support, and maternal history of mental health problems.

The study findings showed that the formation of dental enamel can be affected by exposure to physical stress, including poor nutrition and diseases. Additionally, this can lead to pronounced growth lines within teeth, also known as stress lines. Researchers also mentioned that thicker stress lines on teeth are associated with more stressful life conditions.

As per the research result, Children whose mothers had lifetime histories of severe depression or other psychiatric problems, as well as mothers who experienced depression or anxiety at 32 weeks of pregnancy, were more likely than other kids to have thicker NNLs. Meanwhile, mothers who got significant social support immediately after pregnancy, their children were more likely to have thinner NNLs. These findings remained the same even after controlling other factors that could influence NNL width, such as gestational age, maternal obesity, and iron supplements.

According to Erin C. Dunn (Senior author of the study), the width of the NNLs of baby teeth can play the active role of an indicator of whether a child’s mother suffered from high levels of psychological stress during pregnancy and shortly after birth. She later mentioned that it’s uncertain what causes the NNL to form, but it’s possible that a mother experiencing anxiety or depression may produce more cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which interferes with the cells that create enamel.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Mountain, R. V., Zhu, Y., Pickett, O. R., Lussier, A. A., Goldstein, J. M., Roffman, J. L., Bidlack, F. B., & Dunn, E. C. (2021). Association of maternal stress and social support during pregnancy with growth marks in children’s primary tooth enamel. JAMA Network Open, 4(11), e2129129. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.29129

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