Addressing the Role of Oral Health in Maternal Mortality and Pregnancy Outcomes

Published 04/28/2023

It is an alarming trend that both maternal mortality and preterm birth rates have increased in the United States during the last three years. Even more alarming: Those rates are especially high for people of color.  

A visual report from CareQuest Institute examines the worsening state of maternal and infant health in the US, and the often overlooked connection between oral health and pregnancy outcomes.  

Key points from the report include: 

  • In the US in 2020, 861 individuals died of pregnancy-related causes (an increase of 14% from 2019), and about 1 in 10 babies were born prematurely. 
  • Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are 2.9 and 2.5 times more likely, respectively, to die from pregnancy-related causes than non-Hispanic white women. 
  • The preterm birth rate among Black women is 52% higher than the rate among all other women. 
  • A small but significant correlation exists between periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Maternal periodontal disease is associated with preterm birth and preeclampsia. 

These findings demonstrate the importance of communication between dentists and patients regarding the oral health risks during pregnancy, and the benefits of oral hygiene best practices for both maternal and infant health. 

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