Microbiology: Can bacteria in the oral flora cause premature births?

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Microbiology: Can bacteria in the oral flora cause premature births?
Microbiology: Can bacteria in the oral flora cause premature births?

Can oral flora cause premature birth?

Yiping Han and her colleagues at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found Bergeyella bacteria in the amniotic fluid of a 37-year-old mother of a premature baby. These bacteria, which cannot be cultivated in the laboratory and can only be detected via their DNA, belong to the 700 species of bacteria in the oral flora. A connection between infections originating there and premature births has been suspected for some time, but has not yet been proven.

It is known that women can catch vaginal infections during pregnancy, which then lead to premature births - sometimes initiated to protect the child from harm. But the path via injured oral mucosa and the bloodstream was also discussed. Han had shown in experiments on mice that injecting oral bacteria into the blood of pregnant animals caused premature birth.

Now she and her colleagues had also examined 34 women for oral bacteria in the amniotic fluid as part of a prenatal check-up. Six of them suffered premature births, and in one of them the researchers had discovered the germs normally found in the mouth in the amniotic fluid. However, the woman had no evidence of gum disease that would facilitate the entry of the bacteria into the bloodstream and could be considered a recognizable risk factor.

In view of this, far more women than previously thought could be affected by an infection and the resulting preterm births, says Han. She therefore calls for prenatal care to be extended to this area in order to protect the unborn child from bacterial infections from the mother's oral cavity. The child of the 37-year-old was born weeks early with a significantly lower birth weight. According to the researcher, a birth weight that is too low is just one of many evils that unnecessarily complicate the start of life for premature babies. They faced a variety of he alth risks.

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