Washington DC: Smokers, you may want to kick that habit as a recent study has linked exposure to secondhand smoke to increased risk of tooth decay in young children.
Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support extending public health and clinical interventions to reduce secondhand smoke, the researchers noted.
The level of dental caries in deciduous (baby) teeth in developed countries remains high - 20.5 percent in children ages 2 to 5 years in the US and 25 percent in children aged 3 years in Japan.
Researchers based in Japan set out to investigate smoking during pregnancy and exposure to household smoke in infants at four months of age as risk factors for caries in deciduous teeth.
Compared with having no smoker in the family, exposure to tobacco smoke at 4 months of age was associated with an approximately twofold increased risk of caries.
The risk of caries was also increased among those exposed to household smoking, by 1.5-fold, whereas the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy was not statistically significant.
This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, stress the authors and results may have been influenced by other unmeasured factors.
The study is published in The BMJ.