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Prenatal nicotine exposure reduces breathing response of newborns...

the mouth in pregnant mothers where the oral bacteria enter the blood through bleeding gums.

Hans said the infections play a bigger role in premature deliveries prior to 30 weeks than those that happen later in pregnancy and can result in babies born with many health challenges and who struggle to thrive at their low-birth weights.

According to 2003 statistics from the March of Dimes (http://www.marchofdimes.com/prematurity/15341_10734.asp), hospital charges for newborns without complications averaged $1,700. In contrast, hospital costs for infants born too soon to too small averaged a startling $77,000. Also in 2003, hospital charges for all infants totaled $36.7 billion. Nearly half of that, $18.1 billion, was for babies with a diagnosis of prematurity or low birth weight. Today 1,300 babies in the U.S. will be born prematurely. While doctors have made tremendous advances in caring for babies born too soon and too small, scientists have not yet developed effective ways to help prevent premature delivery.

Finding why mothers give birth prematurely is important for the health of the baby and mother and to drive down medical costs, said Han.

The mother, who had the presence of Bergeyella, came to MetroHealth when in preterm labor and dilated at 24 weeks. She was induced after it was determined by low glucose levels and elevated white blood cell counts in her amniotic fluid that she had an infection. An examination of the placenta, fetal lining and umbilical cord following the birth supported the infection.

Han's tests of the amniotic fluid found the Bergeyella bacteria.

This study continues Han's research into the suspicion that oral bacteria, once entering the blood, can cause a host of health problems including preterm labor.

She confirmed the harm oral bacteria can cause in a mice study in April 2004 when she injected the common oral
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Source:American Physiological Society


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