The Oral-Systemic Connection: Part 4
For the first time ever scientists have been able to establish a link between bacteria from an expectant mother’s gums to an infection that caused the stillbirth of her full-term infant.
This case study was published in the January 21/2010 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology after a 35-year old Californian woman contacted scientists from Case Western University to start an investigation into the death of her unborn child. Having read an earlier study by these same scientists where they discovered that an oral bacteria called Fusobacterium Nucleatum could cross the placenta in mice this woman began to question if this specific bacteria could have spread from her bloodstream to her placenta and caused the death of her unborn child.
The California woman said that she had experienced signs of gum disease during her pregnancy which included heavy bleeding but since bleeding gums during pregnancy is quite common both she and her doctors were not concerned. An estimated 75 percent of expectant mothers develop bleeding gums as a result of hormone changes and there is an actual name for this mild form of gum disease during pregnancy called Pregnancy Gigivitis. In most cases treatment can be as simple as brushing and flossing more often but in some cases further treatment may be necessary.
In further studies a research team from the University of Pennsylvania enrolled 1000 pregnant women between 6 and 20 weeks gestation period, who all had symptoms of gum disease, into a study. Researchers found that those mothers within the study who were not treated for the condition had a threefold increased chance of giving birth before 35 weeks.
The results of another study have allowed for the conclusion that periodontal disease in pregnant women may be an important risk factor for low birth weight as well. The study even went so far as to say that 18.2% of all cases of premature low birth weight may be associated with gum disease.
All infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby and the American Academy of Periodontology even goes as far as recommending a periodontal evaluation when a woman is considering pregnancy.
So, if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant do not ignore the signs of gum disease; good oral care is now a part of prenatal care. If anyone is in doubt I am including a link to help you assess your gum disease risk http://service.previser.com/aap/default.aspx.
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