Maternal, infant and young child nutrition (Document EB142/22)
FDI World Dental Federation is the official representative body of over one million dentists worldwide.
We congratulate WHO on the significant progress made in improving maternal, infant and child health.
Children have unique oral health challenges because of their dependence on parents and caregivers. A child’s oral health begins in utero. Poor maternal oral health and malnutrition during pregnancy may lead to disruptions in enamel formation and a predisposition to early childhood caries. Despite being preventable, dental caries is the most common chronic childhood disease globally.
Sugar is the primary factor for the development of dental caries. Encouragingly, the Secretariat’s report reveals that the number of countries adopting fiscal policies on sugar-sweetened beverages has doubled from 15 to 30. This momentum matters because sugar taxes are a proven mechanism of improving oral health outcomes. We therefore call upon more countries to implement sugar taxes and to consult with their national dental associations for input.
We commend WHO on developing a manual for Member States to end the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children. But we are disappointed to see that the manual does not mention how “early childhood caries is caused by frequent and prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugar and is often the result of a child going to bed with a bottle of a sweetened drink or drinking at will from a bottle during the day.” This is in fact a WHO statement. We strongly encourage Member States to implement both the manual and WHO’s guideline on sugar intake for adults and children. FDI’s practical guide on sugars and dental caries will further inform countries on decreasing overall sugar intake.
We also agree with the extension to 2030 of the 2025 targets and the four remaining GMF indicators as recommended in the report.