Vol. 6, No. 3, 2000 Page 7

Cleaner teeth/safer babies?

Prematurity is a strong risk factor for severe learning and behavioral problems. While some causes of prematurity are well-known, Marjorie Jeffcoat et al. recently reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research that they h have identified one surprising culprit: periodontal disease.

Jeffcoat and colleagues are studying more than 2000 women, and report that preliminary data show "a high rate of prematurity with the presence of periodontal disease." Moreover, they say, the risk of prematurity appears to increase with the severity of ma aternal periodontal disease. The researchers note that animal studies show that periodontal infections in animals disrupt fetal growth, possibly by increasing the release of cytokines.


"Periodontal disease may pose one risk for premature birth," Charles Marwick, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 283, No. 22, June 14, 2000.

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