A study has found evidence that pregnant women with periodontal (gum) disease have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes than pregnant women with healthy gums.
Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake, a professor of epidemiology and health promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry, led the study on 256 women at New York s Bellevue Hospital Center through their first six months of pregnancy.
The results showed that 22 women developed gestational diabetes and had significantly higher levels of periodontal bacteria and inflammation than the other women in the study.
The findings of the study draw attention to the importance of maintaining good oral health by expectant mothers.
In addition to its potential role in preterm delivery, evidence that gum disease may also contribute to gestational diabetes suggests that women should see a dentist if they plan to get pregnant, and after becoming pregnant. Treating gum disease during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective in improving womens oral health and minimizing potential risks.
The major characteristics of gestational diabetes include an inability to transport glucose, the main source of fuel for the body, to the cells during pregnancy.
Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans are at the highest risk for developing gestational diabetes. It was found that 80 pct of the women in the NYU study were Hispanic.
The researchers believe that inflammation associated with periodontal disease has a pivotal role in the onset of gestational diabetes, possibly by interfering with the normal functioning of insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose metabolism.
Journal of Dental Research, April 2008