Maternal Periodontal Disease Doubles Preterm Birth Risk

In women with moderate-to-severe gum disease, incidence of preterm birth was 28.6%

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Periodontal disease in pregnant women is associated with a twofold higher risk of preterm delivery compared to women with healthy gums, according to a study in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In the Oral Conditions and Pregnancy (OCAP) study, Steven Offenbacher, D.D.S., Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, and colleagues examined obstetric outcomes in 1,020 pregnant women who received periodontal examinations before and after giving birth.

The researchers found that 11.2% of periodontally healthy women had preterm births (less than 37 weeks), versus 28.6% of women with moderate-to-severe periodontal disease (adjusted risk ratio, 1.6). Some 6.4% of women with periodontal disease progression had a very preterm delivery (less than 32 weeks), versus 1.8% in women without advancing periodontal disease (adjusted RR, 2.4).

"The OCAP study demonstrates that maternal periodontal disease increases relative risk for preterm or spontaneous preterm births," the authors write. "Furthermore, periodontal disease progression during pregnancy was a predictor of the more severe adverse pregnancy outcome of very preterm birth, independently of traditional obstetric, periodontal, and social domain risk factors."

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