Prevention of pre-term birth by treatment of periodontal disease during pregnancy [ 2005 - 2007 ]

Also known as: Preventing premature birth by improving oral health

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof John Newnham (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Dorota Doherty John Mcgeachie

Brief description Premature birth is one of the major unsolved problems in human health and is the single greatest problem in reproduction. Decades of research that has focused on features of women's lives and their pregnancies have failed to impact on the frequency of this disorder. However, there now is exciting evidence that many cases of premature labour may result from inflammation arising from a source outside the uterus. The gums are considered a likely source of that inflammation. Inflammation of the gums, or periodontal disease, is common and affects one in seven women of reproductive age in Australia. We have a good understanding of the potential mechanisms by which inflamed gums may cause problems in pregnancy by releasing chemicals into the blood stream. Many of these chemicals have powerful abilities to cause premature labour. Several studies have now shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to deliver early. There has been one controlled study, published recently from Chile, which found that relatively simple treatment of gum disease reduced the rate of premature birth to one fifth that in the untreated group. This application is for funds to conduct a controlled study of treatment of gum disease in an Australian population aimed at reducing the rate of premature birth and other important complications of pregnancy. 5400 pregnant women will have a simple screening test of their gums and 1094 with gum disease will be invited to have treatment. Of these, half will be offered an oral health treatment program during mid- and late-pregnancy, while the other half will be offered similar treatment but after completion of the pregnancy. The treatments are straightforward, provided by hygienists under specialist supervision, and are suitable to be applied to the entire population of pregnant women if found to significantly reduce the rate of premature births.

Funding Amount $AUD 910,125.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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