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Mother's gum disease treatment safe for baby

Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their child's health.

Mother

Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their child's health.

The concern among dentists had been that treating the problem could cause bacteria to get into the mothers' bloodstream, where they could harm babies' development. Gum disease - caused by a bacterial infection that breaks down gum tissue and can cause tooth loss and serious health problems - is a particular problem during pregnancy. Hormonal changes appear to make a pregnant woman more susceptible to developing it, yet the standard antibiotic-based therapy is not recommended because it may stain the baby's teeth.

To determine if periodontitis treatment in pregnant women affects mental, physical, or language development in infants, researchers studied 411 of 791 eligible mother/caregiver-child pairs. Half the mothers were treated with aggressive teeth-cleaning - called scaling and planing - during pregnancy.

Thirty-seven participating children were born at <37 weeks' gestation. Infants in the treatment and control groups did not differ significantly for adjusted mean mental, physical or language scores. Children of women who experienced greater improvements in periodontal health had significantly higher physical and mental scores, although the effect was small.

The findings show that non-surgical treatment of periodontitis in pregnant women is not associated with mental, physical, or language development in children.
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