Periodontal infections and pre-term low birth weight: a case-control study

J Clin Periodontol. 2005 Feb;32(2):174-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2005.00670.x.


Objective: Pre-term delivery of low-birth-weight infants [pre-term low birth weight (PLBW)] remains a significant public health issue and a major cause of neonatal death and long-term health problems. There is a growing consensus that infections remote from fetal-placental unit may influence PLBW infants. Recent studies have suggested that maternal periodontal disease may be an independent risk factor for PLBW. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the possible link between periodontal infections and PLBW by means of clinical and microbiological data in post-partum women with low socioeconomic level.

Methods: Clinical periodontal recordings comprising dental plaque, bleeding on probing, probing pocket depth and gingival recession were performed (six sites/tooth) in a total number of 181 women (53 cases and 128 controls) within 3 days post-partum. Subgingival plaque samples from mesio-or disto-buccal aspect of randomly selected one first molar and one incisor tooth have been obtained by paperpoints and were analysed by checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization with respect to 12 bacterial species. In all analyses, the individual subject was the computational unit. Thus, mean values for all clinical parameters were calculated and bacterial scores from each individual sample were averaged. Statistical methods included Student's t-test, Fisher's exact test/chi(2) test, and multiple logistic regression analysis.

Results: The cases have gained significantly less weight during the pregnancy than did the controls (p<0.05). There were no statistically significant differences between the cases and controls with regard to the dental and periodontal parameters and the values of clinical periodontal recordings were found to be very similar (p>0.05). Mean and median scores (bacterial loads) of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, and Streptococcus intermedius in the subgingival plaque sampling sites were significantly higher in the controls than in the cases (p<0.05). The occurrence rates of P. intermedia, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Peptostreptococcus micros, Campylobacter rectus, Eikenella corrodens, Selenomonas noxia and S. intermedius were higher in the cases compared with the controls, but the differences were not statistically significant (p>0.05). According to the model created by the multiple logistic regression analysis, P. micros and C. rectus were found to significantly increase the risk of PLBW (p<0.01 and p<0.05 respectively), while P. nigrescens and A. actinomycetemcomitans decreased this risk (p<0.01).

Conclusion: The present findings indicated that when subgingival bacteria were evaluated together, P. micros and C. rectus may have a role in increasing the risk for PLBW, although no single bacteria exhibited any relation with the risk of PLBW. Further studies are required to better clarify the possible relationship between periodontal diseases and PLBW.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacteroides / isolation & purification
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Periodontal Diseases / complications*
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / microbiology
  • Premature Birth / etiology*