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Study Finds Periodontal Care Not Linked to Low Birthweight Babies

February 16, 2006

Over the past 25 years, researchers have gathered an intriguing but somewhat circumstantial body of evidence to suggest that women with severe gum, or periodontal, disease during pregnancy are at risk of delivering low birthweight babies.  Left unanswered is whether treating women for periodontal disease during pregnancy will help them both reach full term and give birth to healthy babies.  In the February issue of the European Journal of Oral Sciences, NIDCR grantees and colleagues report that patterns of periodontal care alone are unrelated to a woman’s risk of delivering low birthweight babies.  They reached their conclusion based on a systematic review of dental care utilization records and matched birth certificate data for nearly 4,000 pregnancies in Washington State from 1993 to 2000.  Of these pregnancies, there were 793 low birthweight deliveries and 3,172 normal births.  The researchers found that women who sought treatment for periodontal disease were more than twice as likely to be self reported smokers, diabetic, of older maternal age, or African American.  After adjusting their analysis for these risk factors, they determined that women who discontinued periodontal treatment during pregnancy had no increased risk of delivering a low birthweight infant compared to women who did not receive periodontal treatment.

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014