ASM logoBacteria, as most people know, are present everywhere and are seemingly responsible for various diseases and infections. Research now seems to indicate that bacteria may be responsible for pre-term births as well. A group of researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights pose that bacteria present in the mouth of pregnant women can lead to pre-term birth.

The U.S. accounts for approximately 12.7 percent pre-term deliveries, which seems to have gone up by about 36 percent over the last 25 years. Pre-term birth, miscarriages and still births apparently are caused due to intrauterine infections. The reason for this infection has long been presumed to be bacteria moving up from the genital tracts up into the uterus. Nevertheless, according to recent research, such infections seem to arise not only from bacteria present in the vaginal tract, but also from the ones present in the mouth.

Apparently, the human mouth houses around 700 bacterial species. Gingivitis, commonly occurring during pregnancy, elevates the amount of bacteria in the mouth. This elevation further raises the chances of the transmission to the placenta through the blood stream.

The team quotes that, “This study provides the first insight into the diversity of oral bacteria associated with intrauterine infection. Based on our findings, we postulate that periodontal therapies targeted at consistently reducing the total bacterial load in the mother’s oral cavity may be effective in improving birth outcomes.”

The team researched on pregnant mice, by injecting saliva and plaque samples into their tails. The researchers wanted to determine as to which bacteria is capable of oral-uterus transmission. They identified a group of bacterial species inhibiting the mouse placenta, out of which a majority seemed to have been born from the oral cavity. These bacteria are seemingly associated with adverse pregnancy results in humans.

The results garnered from the research are to be published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.