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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Oral Health 1/2015

Breast feeding practices as cultural interventions for early childhood caries in Cree communities

BMC Oral Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Jaime Cidro, Lynelle Zahayko, Herenia P Lawrence, Samantha Folster, Margaret McGregor, Kristen McKay
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

JC is the main author of this paper and principal investigator of this project. The design of this project, collection of the data and authorship was primarily led by JC. LZ was the undergraduate student at the time of data collection who assisted with the interviews, focus groups and coding of the data alongside JC. LZ also assisted in writing the paper. HPL is the principal investigator on the Baby Teeth Talk Study, and a faculty mentor on this project through JC’s new investigator award. She assisted with the writing of this paper. SF was the director of the Social Division at the time of the writing of this paper, and is currently a Councilor with Norway House Cree Nation. SF assisted with the analysis of the transcripts on breastfeeding with a particular focus on the role of poverty and addictions in shaping women’s choices to breastfeed. MM was the Health Director at the time of this project and is currently the Director of Patient Services at the Norway House Indian Hospital. MM facilitated the collaboration with the Health Division, assisted with finding participants and promoting the project. KM was the local research assistant on this project and provided all the technical assistance for the focus groups and interviews. All authors read and approved of the final manuscript.



Breastfeeding is a gift from mother to child and has a wide range of positive health, social and cultural impacts on infants. The link between bottle feeding and the prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) is well documented. In Aboriginal communities, the higher rates of ECC are linked with low rates of breast feeding and inappropriate infant feeding of high sugar content liquids.


The Baby Teeth Talk Study (BTT) is one project that is exploring the use of four interventions (motivational interviewing, anticipatory guidance, fluoride varnish and dental care to expectant mothers) for reducing the prevalence of ECC in infants within Aboriginal communities. This research explored cultural based practices through individual interviews and focus groups with older First Nations women in the community.


Participants in a First Nations community identified cultural based practices that have also been used to promote healthy infant feeding and good oral health. A wide range of themes related to oral health and infant feeding emerged. However, this paper focusses on three themes including: breastfeeding attitudes, social support for mothers and birthing and supporting healthy infant feeding through community programs.


The importance of understanding cultural health traditions is essential for those working in oral public health capacities to ensure there is community acceptance of the interventions.
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