Home Health Chewing sugar-free gum could prevent premature births

Chewing sugar-free gum could prevent premature births

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Healthy mouth, healthy baby ? For years, scientists have explored the link between poor oral health and giving birth too early. In particular, it is increasingly confirmed that there is a link between the presence of gum disease and a risk of premature delivery. A study from Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine reported by the Newsweek site raises the possibility that a simple and inexpensive intervention could make a difference: chewing sugar-free gum during pregnancy. The study took place in Malawi, Africa, a country with one of the highest rates premature delivery the highest in the world.

The intervention concerned chewing gum based on xylitol, a natural alcohol found in fruits and vegetables and commonly used as a sugar substitute in chewing gum. The study was conducted over 10 years and included 10,069 women who voluntarily enrolled before becoming pregnant or within 20 weeks of starting of their pregnancy. All participants received advice on how to take care of their oral health and help them reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely. But only 4,549 of them were given xylitol chewing gum with instructions to do so. chew for 10 minutes, ideally twice a day, throughout the pregnancy.

Better birth weight for the baby, a healthy mouth for the mother

“Oral health and general health are intimately linked. premature birth is a difficult problem, and it is a simple intervention based on very good science. explains Dr. Kjersti Aagaard who conducted the study. The results obtained showed a lower rate ofand premature births before 37 weeks of pregnancy in the group of women who chewed xylitol gum: 12.6% versus 16.5% in the control group. The biggest difference was in “late” preterm births between 34 and almost 37 weeks of amenorrhea. Moreover, babies of mothers chewing gum chewers were more likely to weigh at least 2.5 kg at birth.

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Finally, the women in this group also saw notable improvements in their oral health. “What’s unique about our study is that we used a readily available, inexpensive, and enjoyable way to reduce the risk of a baby being born too early or too small. There is real science behind the choice of xylitol chewing gum to improve the oral health. adds Dr. Kjersti Aagaard. “People think there’s nothing we can do about premature births, but that’s not true. Researchers don’t know exactly how xylitol can prevent the risk of preterm labor, but suggest its “prebiotic” properties.

A chewing gum beneficial for the oral flora

Indeed, xylitol can stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria and thus alter the oral microbiome : the risk of cavities decreases and the gums are healthier, with less risk of systemic inflammation and therefore premature births. But whether there are key differences in oral flora between the women in the study and those from other parts of the world remains to be seen. This is why the scientific community believes that it is premature to suggest that women chew chewing gum xylitol gum during pregnancy. The researchers also wonder if xylitol in other forms such as toothpaste would provide the same beneficial effect.

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However, experts who were not involved in the study note that these findings have the merit of proving once again the link between poor oral health and the risk premature delivery. The next step will be to conduct other similar studies elsewhere in the world, including in the United States. With the objective of determining whether this simple intervention would also be useful in countries where rates premature births linked to poor oral health are lower. Every year, around 15 million babies are born before the 37th week of pregnancy, and that number is growing, according to the World Health Organization.

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