Poor periodontal health of the pregnant woman as a risk factor for low birth weight.

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In both developed and developing countries, low birth weight (LBW) has a tremendous impact on both the health care system and the individual families affected. This warrants the continuous search for risk factors for LBW that are amenable to prevention. Can poor oral health of the pregnant woman be one such factor? In a 1:1 matched case-control study (N = 55 pairs), we evaluated the hypothesis that poor oral health of the pregnant woman is a risk factor for LBW. The effect of periodontal and dental caries status of the woman at the time of delivery on the birth weight of the infant was evaluated by using conditional logistic regression analyses, while controlling for known risk factors for LBW. Mothers of LBW infants were shorter, less educated, married to men of lower occupational class, had less healthy areas of gingiva and more areas with bleeding and calculus, and gained less weight during the pregnancy. Conditional logistic regression analyses indicated that mothers with more healthy areas of gingiva (OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.12 - 0.72) and those who were taller (OR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.75 - 0.98) had a lower risk of giving birth to an LBW infant. Risk of LBW was higher in mothers who had no or late prenatal care (OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.24 - 12.2). We conclude that poor periodontal health of the mother is a potential independent risk factor for LBW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of periodontology / the American Academy of Periodontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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