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Preterm Birth Unaffected by Periodontitis Treatment

Researchers also see no change in rates of low birth weight or fetal growth restriction

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of preterm birth are not significantly lower in pregnant women with gum disease who are treated for periodontitis compared to women with gum disease who are not treated, according to a study published in the Nov. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Bryan S. Michalowicz, D.D.S., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues randomly assigned 823 pregnant women with periodontal disease to undergo scaling and root planing early in the second trimester or after delivery.

The researchers found that the rate of preterm birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) was 12 percent in the group treated during pregnancy compared to 12.8 percent in the group treated after delivery. They also found that periodontal treatment during pregnancy did not result in an upward shift in the gestational age distribution or affect other outcomes such as low birth weight and the proportion of infants who were small for gestational age.

"Although the occurrence of adverse events before 32 weeks of gestation was not a prespecified outcome, it was less common in the treatment group than in the control group. An effect of treatment on early adverse outcomes is plausible," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "In future studies, major adverse outcomes might include late miscarriage, early stillbirth and spontaneous preterm birth before 32 weeks, rather than all preterm births before 37 weeks."

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