Maternal periodontitis and prematurity. Part I: Obstetric outcome of prematurity and growth restriction

Ann Periodontol. 2001 Dec;6(1):164-74. doi: 10.1902/annals.2001.6.1.164.


Oral Conditions and Pregnancy (OCAP) is a 5-year prospective study of pregnant women designed to determine whether maternal periodontal disease contributes to the risk for prematurity and growth restriction in the presence of traditional obstetric risk factors. Full-mouth periodontal examinations were conducted at enrollment (prior to 26 weeks gestational age) and again within 48 hours postpartum to assess changes in periodontal status during pregnancy. Maternal periodontal disease status at antepartum, using a 3-level disease classification (health, mild, moderate-severe) as well as incident periodontal disease progression during pregnancy were used as measures of exposures for examining associations with the pregnancy outcomes of preterm birth by gestational age (GA) and birth weight (BW) adjusting for race, age, food stamp eligibility, marital status, previous preterm births, first birth, chorioamnionitis, bacterial vaginosis, and smoking. Interim data from the first 814 deliveries demonstrate that maternal periodontal disease at antepartum and incidence/progression of periodontal disease are significantly associated with a higher prevalence rate of preterm births, BW < 2,500 g, and smaller birth weight for gestational age. For example, among periodontally healthy mothers the unadjusted prevalence of births of GA < 28 weeks was 1.1%. This was higher among mothers with mild periodontal disease (3.5%) and highest among mothers with moderate-severe periodontal disease (11.1%). The adjusted prevalence rates among GA outcomes were significantly different for mothers with mild periodontal disease (n = 566) and moderate-severe disease (n = 45) by pair-wise comparisons to the periodontally healthy reference group (n = 201) at P = 0.017 and P < 0.0001, respectively. A similar pattern was seen for increased prevalence of low birth weight deliveries among mothers with antepartum periodontal disease. For example, there were no births of BW < 1000 g among periodontally healthy mothers, but the adjusted rate was 6.1% and 11.4% for mild and moderate-severe periodontal disease (P = 0.0006 and P < 0.0001), respectively. Periodontal disease incidence/progression during pregnancy was associated with significantly smaller births for gestational age adjusting for race, parity, and baby gender. In summary, the present study, although preliminary in nature, provides evidence that maternal periodontal disease and incident progression are significant contributors to obstetric risk for preterm delivery, low birth weight and low weight for gestational age. These studies underscore the need for further consideration of periodontal disease as a potentially new and modifiable risk for preterm birth and growth restriction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Birth Weight
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chorioamnionitis / complications
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Parity
  • Periodontitis / complications*
  • Periodontitis / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / complications