Mothers with poor oral hygiene can pass Candida albicans to their children

The results of a new study highlight the important role of maternal oral health in children's oral health.

Mothers with poor oral hygiene can transmit Candida albicans to their children

The study demonstrated a link between Candida albicans and severe early childhood caries. C. albicans begins to colonize the oral cavity from birth, but for a long time it was unclear what role mothers play in transmitting this pathogenic fungus to their children. A recent study from universities in the US and Kuwait suggests that infants are more likely to inherit C. albicans from their mothers if the mother has poor oral hygiene.

During the study, scientists studied 160 mother-child pairs between 2017 and 2020. They collected saliva and plaque samples from participants at eight visits, spanning pregnancy, delivery, and until the child was 2 years old.

The results showed that about 58% of mother-child pairs contained C. albicans in their samples. In 94% of cases where both mother and baby had C. albicans in their mouths, the strains were very similar genetically. The researchers also found that women with higher plaque levels were eight times more likely to pass C. albicans to their children than women with lower levels.

Researchers have not studied how yeast is transmitted to infants. However, they hypothesized that infants may be exposed to skin-to-skin contact during birth or during feeding.

In addition, the researchers studied mothers' feeding practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive bottle feeding, and a combination of both. They reported that nighttime bottle feeding was significantly more common in the C. albicans -infected group. They also found that black infants and children attending day care had an increased risk of contracting C. albicans.

In light of these findings, the researchers believe it is important to offer oral hygiene education programs to mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth to reduce the likelihood of transmitting C. albicans to their infants in early pregnancy.

Future research will involve monitoring children as they grow older to see how the levels of C. albicans in their blood change and whether they develop dental caries.