Primary Prevention of Periodontal Disease in Relation to Preterm Birth in Malawi

Baylor College of Medicine
Organization Location: 
Houston, TX USA

Adverse birth outcomes related to the length of gestation (preterm birth; PTB) and fetal growth (low birth weight or small for gestational age; SGA) are recognized as the two most significant disorders in maternal-child health at global scale. In the developed world, the preterm birth rate approximates 7%. In Malawi, this rate nearly triples to reliable estimates approximating 20.3%, and is felt to possibly occur as a result of maternal infection and inflammation. Moreover, we have known for three decades that: (1) There exists a long-standing and widely documented association between periodontal disease and both preterm birth and low birth weight infants, and (2) Readily and widely available polyols (i.e., Trident gum) prevent periodontal disease. However, to date no one has linked these observations into a simple, integrative and innovative intervention. With this proposal, we aim to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of distribution of chewing gums and/or gummy bear snacks containing at least one polyol on the primary prevention of periodontal disease in association with PTB and SGA births through the rural expansion of our current established community-based health care efforts in Lilongwe, Malawi. By focusing on this simple rural-focused intervention alongside development of community-partnered implementation aimed towards rural settings, we have an opportunity to meet the goals of the "Saving Lives at Birth". In so doing, we will improve our general understanding of the role of infectious morbidity as a contributor to systemic maternal and infant health, and specifically in relation to preterm and SGA births in Malawi.

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