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Even healthy pregnant women need to worry about oral bacteria
Date:5/10/2010

Even healthy pregnant women can be at risk for pregnancy problems caused by oral bacteria. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University began to understand which bacteria from the 700 species living in the mouth are responsible for the growing health problem of preterm and stillbirths.

Yiping Han from the department of periodontics in the CWRU School of Dental Medicine led the study, which found several new bacteria originating in the mouth travel through the blood to cause an inflammatory reaction in the placenta and eventually cause a range of health issues from miscarriages to stillbirths.

The findings were reported this month in Infection and Immunity.

Pregnant women with or without mild oral health problems have baffled researchers as to why oral bacteria have shown up in the placenta or amniotic fluids of premature or stillbirths.

The researchers found that after injecting the tails of pregnant mice with saliva from healthy people and dental plaque from those with periodontal disease, oral bacteria continued to grow in the placentas after it had left the blood 24 hours later.

Prior to Han's work in connecting oral bacteria to the problems in pregnancy, it was thought that infections were transmitted through the vaginal tract.

Information from Han's previous studies over the past decade shows that oral bacteria can be transported through the blood when there is a cut in the mouth's lining or an oral health problem like gingivitis or periodontitis which breaks down the defenses in the mouth's lining that protect bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

According to Han, this suggests that even healthy pregnant women should be concerned that normally occurring bacteria in the mouth can enter the blood stream and make their way into the placenta's immune-free environment to ignite an inflammatory reaction that can lead to premature or stillbirths.

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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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