Good Oral Hygiene May Prevent Early Births
Another good reason to keep your mouth clean! Researchers say that bacteria in the mouth may be the cause for up to 80 percent of early preterm labor cases.
Doctors at Case Western and Yale Universities say that by emphasizing the importance of oral hygiene and prescribing specific antibiotics, this new research may help prevent preterm births or early labor.
“The earlier the woman goes into preterm labor, the higher the chance that she will be infected,” said Yiping Han, a doctor at Case Western University and the first author on the study.
The researchers studied mice by infecting them with Bergeyella, a previously unknown bacteria, and caused preterm births in the mice.
In studying humans, doctors removed amniotic fluid from 46 potentially high-risk pregnant women. Twenty-one of those women delivered a preterm baby and nineteen of those women (85 percent) were found to have previously undetected bacteria.
The bacteria usually live in the mouth, but are able to enter the blood stream through a cut or other wound and eventually colonize the uterus. This can cause a reaction in the uterus, which may lead to early labor.
Scientists are now working on antibiotics that can be used to specifically treat the bacteria found in the body.
“My recommendation is for women to keep their mouth as healthy as possible, and if they have periodontal disease, to get it treated before they become pregnant,” said Floyd Dewhirst, from the Forsyth Institute in Boston.
This study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.