On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, July 19, 2010

Many Mothers Have Found

The title of my post today is a phrase I've used probably hundreds of times in my life as a La Leche League Leader. It's nice to be able to quote studies that demonstrate scientific results, but a lot of the time the research simply hasn't been done. We're left with the experience of other mothers as our guide until such time as the researchers actually catch up.

This last couple of weeks I've been doing as thorough a scouring of the research on early childhood caries as I could because my granddaughter just got diagnosed with cavities. It's been a pretty frustrating experience in some ways because there seems to be really no definitive research, no matter what ADA policies would seem to indicate. There are, however, a lot of anecdotal reports from moms who have either halted or reversed decay in their breastfeeding infants. So while I can give my daughter the results of one double blind study on the effect of xylitol on ECC, for the most part all I can really say at the end of the day is "many mothers have found." What many mothers have found makes sense, what they have found fits the biological norm, it looks at the whole child. While it would be wonderful to be able to cite a wonderfully constructed research study that demonstrated the same things that study has apparently never been done.

It's difficult to do medical research on children. If you suspect that a particular practice might cause harm and that altering some aspect would help there are ethical questions about using a control group where you alter nothing. Thus withholding something you know to be good has ethical implications (even if some dentists don' necessarily recognize that fact). Consequently, we are frequently faced on making medical decisions based on case studies (a very weak form of research in general). However, when the case studies do seem to point to an answer it's better to go with case studies than no research at all.

So the best advice I can give my daughter or anyone else at this point is: xylitol has research support behind it, and many mothers have found that following a xylitol protocol they were able to halt cavity production in their toddlers while continuing to breastfeed ad lib. Some of their babies had teeth that actually re-mineralized. We know from other biological research that breastfeeding through the second year is incredibly beneficial to toddlers. LW at this point is on a xylitol routine and continuing her breastfeeding relationship.

Any questions about how to use xylitol? One helpful website is (www.askdrellie.blogspot.com).

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