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Perspectives of Maryland women regarding oral health during pregnancy and early childhood


  • Supported in part by Grant No. G97MC04455 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

  • Preliminary results of this study were presented orally at the National Oral Health Conference in St. Louis, MO, on April 27, 2010 and were presented orally at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CHIPRA Dental Education Listening Session on October 23, 2009 in Washington DC.

Ms. Jessie K. Buerlein, Children's Dental Health Project, 1020 19th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20036. Tel.: 804-357-6164; Fax: 202-331-1432; e-mail: Jessie K. Buerlein is with the Children's Dental Health Project. Alice M. Horowitz is with the School of Public Health, University of Maryland. Wendy L. Child is with the Healthcare Qualitative Research and Communication Planning Consultant.


Objectives: The objective of this qualitative study was to obtain information on low-income women's knowledge, beliefs, and practices regarding oral heath during pregnancy and for infant care.

Methods: A professional focus group moderator conducted four focus groups (n = 34) among low-income women in Maryland who were either pregnant or had children aged two and younger. Purposeful sampling and qualitative content analysis were employed.

Results: Women were reasonably well informed about oral health practices for themselves and their children; however, important myths and misperceptions were common. Several themes emerged; a central one being that most women had not received oral health information in time to apply it according to recommended practice.

Conclusions: The focus groups with low-income women provided rich and insightful information and implications for future communication strategies to help prevent dental diseases among pregnant women and their infants.