Abstract: Introduction Several organizations consider mother’s milk the optimal nutrition source for newborns [AAP, 1998; Gartner et al., 1997; Mohrbacher and Stock, 2002; WHO, 1989]. However, there is little scientific evidence supporting the idea that breastfeeding has a positive influence on the development of the orofacial structures.
Study and methods The study of cases and controls (observational, analytical and retrospective) and lateral teleradiographs of the cranium of 197 patients (106 breast-fed and 91 bottle-fed) were compared. Ricketts, Steiner and McNamara values were used for the cephalometric analysis. Differences between the two groups were analysed by applying the T-test and ANOVA. Statistical significance levels were set at p<0.05. Non-nutritive infantile sucking habits have been compared; differences between the two groups were analysed by applying the Chi-square test.
Results First, the upper incisors were found to be protruded in the bottle-fed group. Second, subjects belonging to the breast-fed group displayed a brachycephalic mandible arch, while those fed with bottle had a dolichocephalic Steiner mandibular plane. Third, both facial depth and distance of the pogonion to the perpendicular nasion presented a certain tendency to a retruded mandibular bone in the bottle-fed group. And fourth, the frequency of use of dummy and thumb suction were greater in the bottle feed group, without statistical significance.
Conclusion In addition to the multiple advantages that mother’s milk offers to newborns, breastfeeding also helps correct orofacial development (not only for the incisors position, but also for the vertical and sagittal relations of the mandible with upper maxillary and cranial basis).