OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of malocclusion and to examine the effects of breastfeeding and non-nutritive sucking habits on dentition in six-year-old children. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out nested into a birth cohort conducted in Pelotas, Southern Brazil, in 1999. A sample of 359 children was dentally examined and their mothers interviewed. Anterior open bite and posterior cross bite were recorded using the Foster & Hamilton criteria. Information regarding breastfeeding and non-nutritive sucking habits was collected at birth, in the first, third, sixth and 12th months of life, and at six years of age. Control variables included maternal schooling and child's birthweight, cephalic perimeter, and sex. Data were analyzed by Poisson regression. RESULTS: Prevalence of anterior open bite was 46.2%, and that of posterior cross bite was 18.2%. Non-nutritive sucking habits between 12 months and four years of age and digital sucking at age six years were the main risk factors for anterior open bite. Breastfeeding for less than nine months and regular use of pacifier between age 12 months and four years were risk factors for posterior cross bite. Interaction between duration of breastfeeding and the use of pacifier was identified for posterior cross bite. CONCLUSIONS: Given that breastfeeding is a protective factor for other diseases of infancy, our findings indicate that the common risks approach is the most appropriate for the prevention of posterior cross bite in primary or initial mixed dentition.
Child; Open bite; Cross bite; Malocclusion; Breast feeding; Sucking behavior; Fingersucking; Cross-sectional studies