Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Craniofacial measurements for Colombian infants

A Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Faculty of Dentistry research project established the craniofacial pattern for infants between 0 and 3 years of age supported by physical factors as well as socioeconomic and welfare aspects.

Bogotá D. C., 18 de marzo de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The size of the head shows the development of the brain.

The study was carried out on 265 infants between 0 and 3 years old.

Craniofacial measurements help detect anomalies in child cranium size and jaw bone.

Most mothers practice breastfeeding.

According to HOMI data, alterations to head and face represent close to 15% of congenital anomalies, particularly cleft lip or palate.

In contrast to countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, Turkey and Argentina which have produced their own growth patterns as individual and demographical health indicators, in Colombia, when a child is born body measurements are based on international reference patterns. 

With the purpose of identifying real patterns UNal Department of Oral Health Associate Professor Laila Yaned González, carried out a study on 265 preschool infants between 0 and 3 years of age (116 girls and 149 boys, in general good health and welfare conditions) of the Office of Social Integration Secretary of Bogotá. 

González says Colombian infants require a proper craniofacial pattern, providing the possibility of performing better growth diagnostics and anomaly detection in cranium and jaw sizes of the abovementioned infant group. 

“Growth is a global health indicator and it is a priority to monitor it during the first years of life as it is the most vulnerable stage of individuals to environmental influences. Craniofacial structures provide information both on brain development and general physical condition as well as help assess changes and detect early alterations,” said González. 

For instance a research project performed in newborns at the Instituto Materno Infantil (HOMI), a maternity Hospital in Bogotá, showed that head and face alterations represent close to 15% of congenital anomalies, particularly cleft lip or palate. 

Environment and growth 

During a year, González carried out a follow-up on weight and size of children as well as craniofacial width, height and depth, linked to characteristics such as motor and linguistic development. 

“In order to come near the environmental dynamics of infant growth we also analyzed socioeconomic, demographic, welfare and oral function variables such as the nutrition background and type as well as oral habits,” said UNal Faculty of Dentistry Professor and Dentistry Master’s Program Coordinator Clementina Infante Contreras. 

The sample was divided into three groups: 0 to 12, 12 to 24 and 24 to 36 months of age. In the first group children grow more uniformly while when age increases response to environmental influences also increases. 

In relation to head size, Infante says that during the first six months of life it increases up to 7 cms (2.7 in.) and 5 more (1.9 in.) at the end of the first year. 

According to the study in infants between 6 and 36 months of age the size of the cranium in boys is greater than in girls, difference in which ethnical original, upbringing habits and family habits may have a bearing. Also 97.7% of the infants belong to inhabitants of the Provinces of Boyacá and Cundinamarca. 

In indigenous communities for instance, infants eat more hard foods such as raw vegetables and meat which has not been completely cooked. Due to this children need to generate more pressure to chew and this develops their jaw more. The place of birth of parents and grandparents also has an influence as migration carries a genetic, environmental (weather, altitude and temperature) and cultural impact. 

Socioeconomic status and scholarity 

In her study González also took into consideration factors such as nutrition, weight and size at birth as well as presence of cavities or tooth loss. 

In the nursing stage, breast feeding was predominant (98.2%), finger sucking low (4.9%), and use of pacifier (1.8%) and toy sucking (0.74%) lower. From these results, the study concluded that this practice favors jaw bone growth and diminishes the presence of habits in infants. 

Between 6 and 9 months of age, food was primarily baby food, purees and other semisolid foods, but when solid food is introduced, between 11 and 13 months of age, the width of the head and facial size increased, additionally due to the appearance of teeth which demand greater stimulation of the chewing muscles. 

With respect to the socioeconomic aspect, the size of the family, the socioeconomic status as well as the type of housing, occupation and scholarity of the parents are determining factors in order to provide adequate children care. 

Consequently, scholarity level of the mothers (college graduates - 15.8%, technical studies- 13.5% and high school graduates - 44.9%) explains a greater understanding of the economic benefits and wellbeing for their children. 

The results of the research could help direct government policies to improve health conditions for children with the purpose of providing a better future and development for infants.

(Por: Fin/VMH/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 333

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