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Researchers find evidence of periodontal disease leading to gestational diabetes

A team of researchers from New York University has discovered one more reason for expectant mothers to maintain good oral health: pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus than pregnant women with healthy gums.

Following 256 women at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center through their first six months of pregnancy, researchers found that 22 women developed gestational diabetes. Those women had significantly higher levels of periodontal bacteria and inflammation than the other women in the study.

"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," said Ananda P. Dasanayake, Ph.D., lead researcher and professor of epidemiology and health promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry. "Treating gum disease during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective in improving women's oral health and minimizing potential risks.

"In the future, we can expect to see more research on the link between these two conditions involving other high risk groups, such as Asian and Native American women,""said Dr. Dasanayake.

Gestational diabetes is characterized by an inability to transport glucose — the main source of fuel for the body — to the cells during pregnancy. The condition usually disappears when the pregnancy ends, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of developing the most common form of diabetes, known as type 2 diabetes, later in life.

Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans are at the highest risk for developing gestational diabetes. About 80 percent of the women in the NYU study were Hispanic.

Inflammation associated with periodontal disease is believed to play a role in the onset of gestational diabetes, perhaps by interfering with the normal functioning of insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose metabolism.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

3/31/2008

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