Women’s economic empowerment, participation in decision-making and exposure to violence as risk indicators for early childhood caries



Folayan MO, El Tantawi M, Vukovic A, Schroth R, Gaffar B, Al-Batayneh OB, Amalia R, Arheiam A, Obiyan M, Daryanavard H; Early Childhood Caries Advocacy Group.


BMC Oral Health. 2020 Feb 17;20(1):54. doi: 10.1186/s12903-020-1045-5.


OBJECTIVES: In view of the association between early childhood caries (ECC])and maternal social risk factors, this study tried to determine if there were associations between indicators of processes, outputs and outcomes of women’s empowerment, and the prevalence of ECC. METHODS: In this ecological study, indicators measuring the explanatory variables – economic empowerment, decision-making and violence against women – were selected from the Integrated Results and Resources Framework of the UN-Women Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and WHO database. Indicators measuring the outcome variables – the prevalence of ECC for children aged 0 to 2 years, and 3 to 5 years – were extracted from a published literature. The general linear models used to determine the association between the outcome and explanatory variables were adjusted for economic level of countries. Regression estimates (B), 95% confidence intervals and partial eta squared (η(2)) were calculated. RESULTS: Countries with more females living under 50% of median income had higher prevalence of ECC for 3 to 5-year olds (B = 1.82, 95% CI = 0.12, 3.52). Countries with higher percentage of women participating in their own health care decisions had higher prevalence of ECC for 0 to 2-year-olds (B = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.03, 1.67). Countries with higher percentage of women participating in decisions related to visiting family, relatives and friends had higher prevalence of ECC for 3 to 5-year-olds (B = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.03, 1.32). None of the indicators for violence against women was significantly associated with the prevalence of ECC. CONCLUSION: Empowerment of women is a welcome social development that may have some negative impact on children’s oral health. Changes in policies and norms are needed to protect children’s oral health while empowering women.

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Link/DOI: 10.1186/s12903-020-1045-5