Periodontitis: A risk for delivery of premature labor and low birth weight infants

J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011 Jan;2(1):50-2. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.82321.


Periodontitis is a destructive inflammatory disease of the supporting tissues of the teeth and is caused by specific microorganisms or a group of specific microorganisms. Association of periodontal infection with organ systems like cardiovascular system, endocrine system, reproductive system, and respiratory system makes periodontal infection a complex multiphase disease. Inflamed periodontal tissues produce significant amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines, mainly interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), IL-6, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which may have systemic effects on the host. Low birth weight, defined as birth weight less than 2500 g, continues to be a significant public health issue in both developed and developing countries. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause inflammation in the gums can actually get into the bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low birth weight (PLBW) babies. One reasonable mechanism for this is the deleterious effect of endotoxin released from gram-negative bacteria responsible for periodontal disease. Hence, periodontal disease appears to be an independent risk factor for PLBW and there is a need to expand preventive measures for pregnant women in coordination with the gynecological and dental professions.

Keywords: Cytokines; dental; periodontitis; premature labor and low birth weight.