Does Gum Disease Cause Premature Babies?
Birth weight is the most important predictor of an infant’s chances of growing and developing normally. There are approximately 250,000 premature low-weight infants born each year in the United States. Approximately one in 10 births result in a preterm low birth weight baby. Preterm and low birth weight babies are born before 37 weeks, and weigh less than 2,500 grams at birth. The normal, full term, duration of a pregnancy is 40 weeks. Preterm infants with low birth weight are a major public health concern. Most cases of long-term childhood disability begin as low birth weight infants. The hospital costs associated with premature babies are greater than $5 billion annually in the U.S. The social and emotional costs associated with premature infants are also staggering. Researchers estimate that 18 percent of these premature births may be related to infectious oral disease in pregnant women. Periodontal (gum) disease may cause a sevenfold increase in the risk of delivering a premature l