Pregnant women who get treated for periodontal disease can lower the risk of their baby having a preterm birth or a low birth weight, according to a new study.
The finding is based on a meta-analysis of previous studies published in the March issue of American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Dr. Nikolaos P. Polyzos and his research team compiled data from seven randomized trials on the dental health disease, preterm birth and low birth weight conducted between 2002 and 2007. The participants in the study consisted of 1,491 pregnant women who received periodontal treatment and 1,172 who did not.
According to the study, women who received the dental care experienced a significantly lower risk for preterm births and "borderline significant" lower risk for low birth weight.
"It is likely that the benefit of treatment of periodontal disease is related to the decline of oral cavity pathogen concentration and the consequent reduction of transportation of organisms in the amniotic fluid and chorionic membranes," wrote the study authors.
Preterm birth rates affect 12 to 13 percent of pregnancies in the U.S., according to the researchers.
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