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I was surfing the internet yesterday and read about a very interesting new study about pre-mature births and how something as simple as swishing your teeth with mouthwash can help prevent pre-mature births and cut the risk of giving birth to low birth-weight babies. I found this very intriguing and thought I would share it with you…when I first read the article, I thought it was an old wives tale, but the study seems to have some very interesting and relevant evidence to back up this new belief.

The study, presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, suggests that mothers at high risk for an early birth can cut the risk by about 2/3 simply by using of an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, a professor of periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania stated, “Preterm birth is the major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity worldwide and still difficult to predict and prevent. So, when we found that something as simple as mouthwash could change the outcomes, we were very excited.”

A scary fact is that each year, about 13 million babies around the world are born prematurely, leading to death in some, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and breathing an developmental difficulties in others.

What is the cause of pre-mature births?
A number of factors can increase the risk of preterm birth, such as a mother’s low weight, smoking and drug abuse, but oral infections can also raise the risk.

The Study:
Researchers enrolled 204 pregnant women at 6-20 weeks gestation. All of them had periodontal disease which can cause the gums and the bone around the teeth to decay. None of them were receiving dental care. A group of 49 women were given a antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash containing cetyl pyridinium chloride (CPC), to be used twice daily.

The rates of preterm birth were two thirds lower in this group than in the control group of 155 women.

The Studies Findings:

  • It was noted that only 6.1 percent of the women who used a mouthwash had a premature delivery as opposed to 21.9 percent of those who did not use the rinse.
  • Even after factoring age, smoking, and alcohol consumption, women adopting oral hygiene exhibited a two-third reduction in premature deliveries.
  • Only 6.1 percent of the mouthwash using women had premature deliveries, compared to 21.9 percent of those who didn’t rinse.

Jeffcoat stated, “These results were so dramatic. There is a public health responsibility, in fact, to know what we found, to repeat it, to find out who should get it.”

So what’s the overall importance? Pregnant women have an extra susceptibility to bacterial infections– if the gums become severely affected, the infection could possibly trigger labor. This study also adds to evidence that dental care in pregnancy is very important! So brush and floss those pearly whites! 🙂

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