Iron deficiency and childhood cavities Original paper

This study found an association between markers of iron deficiency and cavities among young children. Additionally, two markers of iron status (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular volume) were lower among children with cavities.

This Study Summary was published on January 4, 2022.


Some research suggests that there may be a connection between iron deficiency and a higher risk of cavities during early childhood (sometimes defined as preschool age or younger). However, this research often relies on small sample sizes. As a result, a comprehensive evaluation of the literature was needed to determine if markers of low iron status are associated with a higher risk of early childhood cavities.

The study

This meta-analysis of 12 case-control studies assessed the relationship between markers of iron status and deficiency and early childhood cavities in young children. In total, 12 studies with 9,981 children were included, with 1 study carried out in children 1 to 7 years old and the remainder in children younger than 6. The studies were conducted in India (4 studies), China (4 studies), the United States (1 study), Canada (1 study), Iran (1 study), and Egypt (1 study).

Iron deficiency was assessed in 8 studies, with iron deficiency defined as a serum ferritin level below 30 ug/L (without inflammation). Iron deficiency anemia was also assessed, defined as abnormal levels of two out of three iron markers (serum ferritin, hemoglobin, and mean corpuscular volume). Overall iron status was assessed using serum ferritin (5 studies), serum hemoglobin (5 studies), and mean corpuscular volume (5 studies).

The results

Compared to children without iron deficiency, children with iron deficiency had more than double the odds of having cavities (odds ratio: 2.63). A similar association was found between cavities and iron deficiency anemia (odds ratio: 2.74).

Serum hemoglobin levels and mean corpuscular volume were lower among children with cavities, whereas serum ferritin levels were no different.

Of the studies, 3 were rated as high quality, and 9 were rated as medium quality.

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This Study Summary was published on January 4, 2022.