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Treating Gum Disease May Thwart Preterm Births

Fewer women who had successful periodontal treatment gave birth early, study finds

FRIDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- In another sign of a link between gum disease and premature birth, a new study finds that pregnant women with periodontal disease who undergo successful treatment are less likely to give birth early.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Washington University in St. Louis studied 872 women with and without gum disease who were pregnant for between six and 20 weeks. Of that group, 160 with gum disease were treated and later evaluated to see whether the treatment had been successful.

About 7 percent of the women without gum disease gave birth before 35 weeks' gestation; the rate was 23.4 percent among those who had gum disease, the researchers found.

The study authors also found that women whose periodontal treatment failed were more likely to have premature infants.

The findings are scheduled to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Washington D.C.

More information

The American Academy of Periodontology has more on gum disease and pregnancy.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: International & American Association for Dental Research, news release, March 5, 2010

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