Thursday, December 9, 2021

Can Baby Teeth Identify Possible Mental Disorders?

Did you know your baby teeth can reveal many clues about your childhood? If your answer is no, then you are in for a treat! Baby teeth can expose physical stress such as poor nutrition or disease. The enamel on the tooth is affected causing growth lines inside the tooth. Similar to the rings found inside of a tree! An interesting fact is that the thicker the growth rings, the more stress the individual has faced in their short life.

Eric C. Dunn, ScD, MPH created a hypothesis to see if the thickness of the neonatal line (NNL) had any effect on whether the infant's mother had higher levels of physiological stress during pregnancy. 

Mr. Dunn and two people from the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopment Genetics Unit conducted a study. This study consisted of mothers filling out a survey. Some of the questions asked were about stressful events during the prenatal period, maternal history of psychological problems, neighborhood quality, and level of social support.

After the mothers completed the survey Mr. Dunn and his team measured and analyzed the NNL on each tooth. 

Interesting findings immerged from this study!

Children that had mothers with depression, psychological problems, and/or anxiety during their pregnancy had thicker NNL's.

With this new information, Mr. Dunn believes "that the NNL and other tooth growth marks could be used in the future to identify children who have been exposed to early life adversity. Then we can connect those kids to interventions. So we can prevent the onset of mental health disorders and do that as early on in the lifespan as we possibly can."

Click here for the full article!

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