We certainly don’t have to reiterate what the AAP recommends on the basis of strong evidence gathered in the peer-reviewed literature to date—i.e. exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life carries more benefits than we would ever have time to list or mention in this blog! Yet Peres et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3276) this month add to that list of benefits by hypothesizing that breastfeeding has a protective effect in regard to primary dental malocclusions.
The investigators followed a birth cohort of more than 1300 infants and monitored them for their feeding preferences at birth, 3, 12, and 24 months of age and then examined them for malocclusions such as open bite, cross bite, and other types and variants of this problem while controlling for a variety of potential confounders in their analysis.
The results are mouth-opening and easy to bite into and include a 72% reduced rate of moderate and severe malocclusion if an infant had been exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. If you are looking for that one additional reason to breastfeed, this study may have just the jaw-dropping results you were looking for to share with families who are less eager to breastfeed.