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Unhealthy Gums May Be Associated With Pre-Term, Low Birth Weight Pregnancies

In the US, nearly 10 percent of pregnancies result in preterm, low birth weight babies. These infants often struggle to survive and develop normally. Preterm, low birth weight babies account for nearly 60% of all infant deaths not due to congenital or genetic disease.

In a landmark study performed by Dr. Steven Offenbachler and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, researchers discovered a chilling association between maternal periodontal disease (gum disease) and preterm, low birth weight pregnancies. In the study, mothers with periodontal disease were seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight infants.

Based on the study data, approximately 18.2 percent of all preterm, low birth weight deliveries could be attributable to periodontal disease. This would make periodontal disease responsible for more cases of preterm, low birth weight deliveries than either smoking or alcohol use!

This finding reinforces well documented observations that infections during pregnancy increase the risk of premature births. Genital and urinary tract infections, for instance, dramatically increase a women's chance of delivering a premature infant. Like genital and urinary tract infections, periodontal disease represents a bacterial infection of the body.

How To Protect Your Unborn ChildPremature births

While more studies need to be performed to confirm the University of North Carolina results, it is advisable that women considering pregnancy see their dentist. The dentist can determine whether you have periodontal disease, and take the necessary steps to treat it.

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