The Queensland Birth Cohort Study for Early Childhood Caries (ECC): Results at 7 Years – ADOHTA 2021

The Queensland Birth Cohort Study for Early Childhood Caries (ECC): Results at 7 Years

Mrs Leigh Harrison-Barry1,2, Mrs  Margaret Pukallus1, Dr Kathryn  Elsworthy2, Emeritus Professor  Laurence Walsh2, Emeritus Professor  Wan Kim Seow2, Dr Shaneen  Leishman2, Dr Helen  Boocock1

1Metro South Health, Brisbane , Australia, 2The University of Queensland , Brisbane , Australia

Background: This study was designed to test prevention strategies, as a series of longitudinal interventions and randomised controlled trials.

Aim: To investigate caries predictors in participants at 7yrs of age and compare the efficacy of home visits (HVs) and telephone contacts (TCs) for ECC prevention.

Methodology: A total of 1052 mothers were recruited during the neonatal period into a targeted preventive education programme.  Participants were randomised to receive 6-monthly contact through either HV or TC and attended a clinic appointment at 2yrs of age continuing with 6-monthly appointments until 7yrs of age. At 7yrs, 378 participants completed the program.

Results: The mean caries experience (dmft) of the cohort increased from 0.1 ± 0.5 at 2y to 0.2 ± 1.1 at 3y, 0.5 ± 1.6 at 4y, 1.1 ± 2.4 at 5y, 1.6 ± 2.6 at 6y, and 2.0 ± 2.7 at 7y. The prevalence of mutans streptococci (MS) in the cohort at 2-7yrs was 22%, 36%, 42%, 42%, 39%, and 44%, respectively. MS was strongly correlated with caries prevalence for all years (all P < 0.001).

Statistical modelling employing the generalized estimating equations, identified caries predictors as holding a Health Care Card (low socioeconomic status) (P = 0.009; odds ratio [OR] = 2.05; confidence interval [CI]: 1.20– 3.52), developmental defects of enamel (DDEs) (P < 0.001; OR = 1.09; CI: 1.05–1.14), MS counts ≤105 /mL (P = 0.001; OR = 1.63; CI: 1.24–2.14). By contrast, HVs were more protective than TCs for caries (P = 0.008; OR = 0.42; CI: 0.22–0.80).

Conclusions: This study provides prospective, evidence that MS, DDEs, and socioeconomic status are strongly correlated with ECC and HVs are more efficacious than TCs in ECC prevention. This study was funded by the NHMRC of Australia (Grant No.1046779).


Leigh is a consultant Oral Health Therapist working in Metro South  Health.  Her portfolio has a focus on management of the models of care, oral health promotion, research and engagement.  Her work history includes employment in  both the Public and private sector.  She has been involved in research projects since 2016 largely focusing on 0–4-year-olds and the prevention of Early Childhood Caries.  Her moral  philosophy includes a social consciousness and is committed to improving health disparities amongst the community to ensure equitable access and quality care.  She is currently studying Master of Philosophy in research through the University of Queensland.