Curing gum disease may curb premature births

Could better dental care lead to fewer preterm births?

Gum disease has been linked to premature birth, so researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine sought to test whether treatment of periodontal disease would help.

The researchers randomly assigned 322 pregnant women with gum disease to either oral hygiene instruction or a professional cleaning to see if either would reduce their risk of delivering their babies early. At 20 weeks’ gestation, the 160 women who got the cleaning were assessed to see if the treatment was successful.

The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that there was no significant difference between the two groups in the rate of premature delivery. But an analysis of the treatment group alone found that those women whose periodontal treatment was deemed successful were six times as likely to deliver a full-term baby as those whose treatment did not work

The researchers concluded that reducing preterm births in women with gum disease “may be dependent on the success of periodontal treatment.”

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