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The Fidelity of Initial Acquisition ofMutans Streptococci by Infants from Their Mothers

By Y. Li and P. W. Caufield


correspondence and reprint requests should be addressed Abstract. Previous cross-sectional studies using bacteriocin profiles, serotyping, or genotyping suggest that mothers are the principle source of mutans streptococci (MS) to their infants. This study determined the commonality of MS genotypes between mothers and their infants at the time of initial acquisition. Oral bacteria of mothers and their infants were monitored from birth for approximately 3 years at three-month intervals. Genotypes ofMS in infants appeared identical to those present in mothers in approximately 71% of 34 mother-infant pairs studied. Interestingly, female infants acquired MS genotypes identical to their mothers' with significantly greater fidelity than male infants (88 % vs. 53%). Homology of genotypes between mothers and their infants at initial acquisition strongly suggests that MS strains were transmitted from mother to infant and that this transfer exhibited gender specificity. In no instance did we observe homology of genotypesbetween fathers and infants or fathers and mothers, further supporting the notion that acquisition of MS in humans follows maternal lines. Although the prevalence of dental caries was low in this young child population (11/34; 32%), we observed that male children who harbored the same genotype as their mothers had a 13 times greater likelihood of having caries than female children who acquired their mothers ' strain; this difference was statistically significant (p < 0.01). Although we do not know the biological mechanisms governing fidelity of acquisition between a mother and her infant, our data suggest that caries outcomemay be, in part, determined by both the source ofMS and the presence of a specific genotype of MS. These findings point to continued studies which will further delineate the interrelation among gender, race, and caries outcome as a function of fidelity of transfer ofMS from mothers to their infants

Topics: Key words, mutans streptococci, acquisition, mother and
Year: 1994
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