Biocultural perspectives on pregnancy and nutrition and its impact on dental health in Ecuador

TitleBiocultural perspectives on pregnancy and nutrition and its impact on dental health in Ecuador
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsKim, Sei Jin
Academic DepartmentGeneral Science, College of Science
Thesis AdvisorCheyney, PhD Melissa
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in General Science
Number of Pages41
Date Published09/2008
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsdental health, Ecuador, general science, nutrition, pregnancy

In this thesis I examine the biocultural affects of nutrition and pregnancy on dental health throughout Ecuador. Factors such as diet, fertility rates, cultural practices and barriers to health care are investigated through a review of the existing literature. Three main regions of Ecuador were selected for examination—the highlands, the coast and the Amazon. Through a focus on the cultural construction of diet, nutritional intake and changing fertility rates, I discuss the main issues and barriers to comprehensive oral health facing low-income Ecuadorians. I argue that a poor understanding of the connections between oral and reproductive health and wide spread poverty interact to produce high rates of stunting, micronutrient deficiencies and poor pregnancy outcomes, especially the Ecuador’s rural populations. In addition, I discuss cultural barriers and, particularly the lack of culturally sensitive care for indigenous populations, as major contributors to mortality and morbidity. I end with recommendations for increasing awareness of cultural barriers to dental health that are relevant throughout various parts of Latin America. This thesis presents new perspectives on dental care and reproductive health that have the potential to improve overall health for Ecuadorians.