Infant and child feeding practices and dental caries in 6 to 36 months old children in Fiji

Pac Health Dialog. 2003 Mar;10(1):12-6.


Dental caries is a multifactorial disease. These factors include the presence of cariogenic micro-organisms, fermentable carbohydrates in diet, susceptible tooth and time. Diet appears to strongly affect caries development. The aim of this study was to examine the feeding practices of infants and pre-school children in the Central Division of the Fiji Islands and suggest appropriate preventive dental strategies. A sample of 102 children aged 6-36 months was randomly selected. Information on feeding practices and oral hygiene habits was obtained through a self-administered questionnaire completed by parents from the post-natal clinics. Children were categorized into age groups of 6-12, 13-24 and 25-36 months. Most of the children (55.5%) were bottle fed in the 6-12 months age group and 44.5% were breast-fed. However percentage of children being breast-fed decreased markedly increased with age. Most of them were breast-fed at some stage. The children who were bottle-fed increased in the 13-24 months age group but decreased in 25-36 months group. Snacks were given between meals for most of the children. Sugar was used as the common sweetener among bottle-fed children. Parents are definitely in need of appropriate advice on feeding and oral hygiene practices. An oral health education programme needs to be mounted at post-natal clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Bottle Feeding
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / etiology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding Methods*
  • Fiji
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Milk
  • Mothers / education
  • Social Class
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Toothbrushing


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents