A study at New York University has found evidence that pregnant women with periodontal (gum) disease have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus 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 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 Dasanayake.
The major characteristics of gestational diabetes include an inability to transport glucose, the ain source of fuel for the body, to the cells during pregnancy.
Usually, the condition disappears when the pregnancy ends, but women who have had gestational diabetes are more at 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. 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.
The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Dental Research.