Monday, February 28, 2022

Preterm Birth Reduction in Malawi

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, History of Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

The country of Malawi has one of the highest preterm births in the world. Aimee Cunningham, in a report for Science News tells us about an intervention, one that certainly both was new to me and simple. "Chewing a sugar-free gum daily reduced preterm births in a large study in Malawi." ... The research "was inspired by past research linking poor oral health and preterm birth. The gum contains xylitol ---- a chemical that can boost oral health ---- in place of regular sugar."

The study was part of a long-term project on "problems related to pregnancy the community was concerned about and wanted to solve." Cunningham notes that "The diversity and size of the microbial community in the mouth is second only to the gut. With periodontal disease, there is a shift in the composition of that oral microbial community, giving way to bacteria that cause inflammation and damage gum tissue. From there, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream to reach other organs, perhaps including the placenta." 

Lead author Kjersti Aagaard told Cunningham that she "and her colleagues are planning more research on what’s going on at the microbial level to understand how better oral health reduces preterm birth. The team also wants to track the neurodevelopment of the children born early and those born on time in the study. 'No matter how cost-effective an intervention may be, we still want to make sure you’re making a difference in somebody’s life and the ultimate outcome is how do those kiddos do.'”

Cunningham's reporting includes links to relevant research publications if you want to dig deeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment