Improving health in rural Chinese villages using antibacterial mouth rinse
China is a lower-middle income country, with a population of 1.34 billion. Among this enormous population, there is dramatic disparity of maternal and neonatal health, with the rate of preterm low birth weight (PLBW) ranging from 5~6% in the developed metropolises to >20% in the poor rural areas. One possible reason for the high PLBW rate is poor maternal oral health, which adversely impacts the birth outcome. Innovative work from the PI’s group has demonstrated that frequent gingival bleeding caused by periodontal infection provides an entry point for oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and invade the uterus, resulting in pregnancy complications. Previous studies using a single treatment of scaling and root planing were unsuccessful at reducing PLBW because the single treatment only temporarily reduced the bacterial load. While interventions employing multiple periodontal treatments have produced better efficacy, they were costly and unsuitable for the low-income populations. We propose a pilot randomized control study to test the efficacy of daily use of antibacterial mouth rinse on maternal health and birth outcome. Four hundred pregnant women will be recruited into either the treatment (using mouth rinse) or control (no intervention) group from Ning-Qiang County in Shaanxi Province, one of the poorest areas in China, with a PLBW rate >20% and prevalence of periodontal disease >90%. This approach, aimed at daily reduction of bacteria, is unconventional, low cost, and easy to deliver. If successful, it can be applied to a large population in China and elsewhere in the world.