Why Promoting Good Oral Hygiene During Routine Prenatal Visits May Help Prevent Low Birthweight Babies
bacteria from the mouth may be related to preterm delivery and low
birthweight according to a study by researchers from New York
University in the Journal of Periodontology (JOP).
reported in the past that periodontal disease may be a factor in the
occurrence of preterm low birthweight babies. Now it is believed that
bacteria commonly found in dental plaque biofilms may also be related,
evaluated bacterial levels in the saliva of 297 women in their third
trimester of pregnancy. They found that a higher salivary level of the
bacteria called Actinomyces naeslundii Genospecies2 is associated with
low birth weight and preterm delivery, while higher levels of the
bacteria Lactobacillus casei during pregnancy positively affected the
observation that A.naeslundii gsp2 reduced birthweight and preterm
delivery fits well with the theory that oral bacteria and the molecules
the body produces against them can enter the uterine environment
through the blood stream and may influence the delivery process,"
explained Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake, Department of Epidemiology and
Health Promotion, New York University College of Dentistry.
bacteria L.casei secretes acids that maintain the vaginal pH level
below 4.5. This pH level has a protective effect and prevents the
overgrowth of more bacteria, including those associated with bacterial
vaginosis (a condition associated with preterm labor and deliver)."
interesting is that the research shows that for each ten-fold increase
in A. naeslundii gsp 2 levels, there was a 60 gram (0.13 pound) decline
in birthweight and a 0.17 week decrease in gestational age. On the
other hand, for one unit increase of L. casei levels there was a 42
gram increase (0.9 pounds) in birth weight and a 0.13 week increase in
gestational age," said Vincent J. Iacono, DMD and president of the
American Academy of Periodontology.
studies should evaluate both oral bacteria and bacteria that are not
related to periodontal diseases to better understand this potential
important link between periodontal status and prematurity."
The issue of
the JOP included another study, Periodontal Diseases and the Risk of
Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight: A Meta-Analysis. Findings from this
study indicate that periodontal diseases in the pregnant mother
significantly increase the risk of subsequent preterm birth or low
birth weight. Researchers feel it remains important to promote good
oral hygiene during routine prenatal visits, but caution that more
studies need to be conducted to further our understanding about the
effects of periodontal treatment on preterm birth.
Academy of Periodontology is an 8,000-member association of dental
professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment
of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth
and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants.
For more information on the American Academy of Periodontology, visit www.perio.org.