Effect of early childhood malnutrition on tooth eruption in Haitian adolescents

W. Psoter, B. Gebrian, S. Prophete, B. Reid, R. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objective of this retrospective cohort study was to determine the effects of early childhood protein-energy malnutrition (EC-PEM) and current nutritional status as defined by anthropomorphic measures on the exfoliation and eruption patterns of teeth among adolescents. Methods: Oral clinical examinations were conducted in 2005 using World Health Organization (WHO) diagnostic criteria on 498 11- to 13-year-old Haitians for whom early childhood malnutrition data were available. Anthropomorphic records (weight-for-age) from the Haitian Health Foundation computerized database on children from birth through 5-years old were utilized. Current heights and weights were ascertained. Both sets of data were converted to z-scores based on the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) referent database. Based upon these z-scores, EC-PEM and current malnutrition categories were developed for this study. The analyses separately regressed the number of primary and permanent teeth on age, gender, EC-PEM status and current nutritional status. Results: Both a delayed exfoliation of primary teeth and a delayed eruption of permanent teeth were associated with EC-PEM and current stunting in adolescence. The observed associations were either direct and statistically significant or indirectly demonstrated by presenting evidence of confounding. The overall interpretation of the models is that malnutrition beginning in the earliest years and extending throughout childhood influences the exfoliation and eruption of teeth. Conclusion: These findings present evidence of an association between tooth exfoliation/eruption patterns and both EC-PEM and nutritional insufficiency (stunting) throughout childhood. This observed delay in the exfoliation of the primary dentition and in the eruption of the permanent dentition has practical significance in interpreting age-specific dental caries data from populations with different malnutrition experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Eruption
  • Exfoliation
  • Malnutrition
  • Permanent teeth
  • Protein-energy malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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