Periodontal (Gum) infection as a possible risk factor for preterm low birth weight

A possible link has been found between gum (periodontal) disease and the delivery of premature, underweight babies.  Each year, a quarter of one-million babies are born underweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).  Twenty-five percent without any known risk factors such as smoking, alcohol use and poor nutrition.  Expectant mothers and their families should be aware that any infection during pregnancy is a cause for concern.  The health of the mother affects the health of the baby.

Gum disease, like high blood pressure, can be a "silent" infection.  Signs of gum disease include: bleeding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth.  If you're thinking about getting pregnant or are pregnant, you should plan a visit to your dentist as part of your prenatal care.  Treatment for gum infection should be discussed with expectant mother and her physician.  While an association was found between gum disease and low birth weight babies, additional research must be conducted to determine whether gum disease actually causes preterm births.

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