Despite so many advances in obstetrical care, premature delivery and more importantly it’s consequences on the not so ready newborn remain a major challenge. 5-10% of babies are currently born prematurely, and account for the majority of serious newborn illness and death. Classic risk factor includes severe medical illnesses (like high blood pressure & diabetes), socioeconomic circumstances, multiple fetuses, and most importantly a history of previous early delivery.
Interestingly dental hygiene, specifically gingivitis (gum disease) also contributes to premature deliveries. Why the human body doesn’t reject a developing pregnancy as a foreign body remains a medical mystery? Recurrent bacteria circulating in the bloodstream somehow alters this masking process. Likewise disturbances in vaginal bacteria also seem to be problematic.
Countless clinical trials have shown most medications are futile at arresting preterm labor more than a few days. A cortisone injection helps prevent some of the complications of premature delivery such as accelerating lung maturity and decreasing bleeding into the fragile premature baby’s brain. Recently weekly progesterone injections given prophylacticaly have been shown to prolong gestations for women with a previous preterm delivery. They need to begin early around 16-18 weeks gestation.
So if you’re contemplating having a baby in the near term see your primary care doctor to optimize medical conditions and check that prescription medications are safe to continue. Please also begin folate supplementation (400 mcg commonly found in most multi-vitamins), establish consistent dental hygiene practices (brushing, flossing, and mouthwash), and clear any suspected vaginal infections. While not the “answer” to premature deliveries, these steps may help you have a healthier baby.
Wishing you good health!
Can brushing your teeth, and taking a vitamin really help you have a healthy pregnancy and full-term baby?
To learn more about pregnancy, visit our women’s health library
Women’s Health Specialists
2299 Mowry Ave. Suite #3C
Fremont, CA 94538