Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the risk of early childhood caries (ECC) in children who had middle ear infections (MEI) or respiratory tract infections (RTI) during early childhood.
Methods: Medicaid data from Michigan were analyzed for all continuously enrolled children born in 2001 for whom enrollment, medical, and dental claims were filed during 2001-2004. Proportional hazards survival models were used to assess the risk of ECC in children who had MEl or RTI during the first year of life.
Results: Included in the study were 29,485 children (51% males and 49% females). By first year of life, 47% and 69% of children had a claim for MEI and RTI, respectively. Children with at least one claim for MEI or RTI were at 29% higher risk for developing ECC compared to those with no claims (P < .001). Hispanic children with 8 or more claims showed 91% greater risk for developing ECC than those with less than 8 claims (P = .01).
Conclusions: The occurrence of middle ear infections or respiratory tract infections during the first year of life is associated with a significantly increased risk for developing early childhood caries during subsequent years. Race and ethnicity are possible predictors for ECC in the studied models.