The preterm birth rate in Alabama is the third highest in the nation, at 12 percent.
For African-American women it’s much worse: 48 percent higher than for all other women in the state.
The good news, according to two UAB studies, is that a simple intervention may have a major impact.
When a woman is pregnant, inflammation and the body’s reaction to infection rise, explains Maria Geisinger, DDS, MS, an associate professor in the UAB School of Dentistry Department of Periodontology.
Studies have shown that the majority of pregnant women (up to 100 percent in some research) have gum disease.
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This gingival inflammation will increase early in pregnancy with gum bleeding a highly visible sign.
Even worse, as several studies worldwide have found, gum disease may be linked to negative pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight.