Bad gums can lead to diabetes for mums-to-be

US researchers have found evidence of periodontal disease leading to gestational diabetes.

The findings, published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Dental Research, underscore how important it is for expectant mothers to maintain good oral health.

A study by a New York University dental research team has discovered evidence that pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus than pregnant women with healthy gums.

The study, led by Dr Ananda P Dasanayake, a professor of epidemiology & health promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry, followed 256 women at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center through their first six months of pregnancy.

Twenty-two women developed gestational diabetes – and these 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,’ says Dr Dasanayake.

‘Treating gum disease during pregnancy has been shown to be safe and effective in improving women’s oral health and minimising potential risks.’

Gestational diabetes is characterised by an inability to transport glucose 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 Type 2 diabetes later in life.

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