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Periodontal pathogen may prevent young women from becoming pregnant

HELSINKI, Finland: A new study by scientists from the University of Helsinki showed that, in the case of young women, the very common periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis can inhibit conception. According to the comprehensive international epidemiological study Global Burden of Disease Study, severe chronic periodontitis is the sixth most common disease in the world. Until now, however, doctors had no data on the effect of periodontal bacteria on pregnancy.

To find out whether the microbiological and serological markers of periodontitis are associated with conception, scientists involved 256 women aged 19 to 42 years in the study: they all stopped using contraceptives to become pregnant. The study participants answered questions about their systemic diseases, smoking, the level of oral hygiene, the regularity of visits to the dentist and their socio-economic status. On examination, the presence of carious lesions and periodontal diseases was recorded (the depth of periodontal pockets, the presence of visible plaque, bleeding during probing and loss of clinical attachment were used as criteria). To identify periodontal pathogens and related antibodies, the researchers analyzed blood serum and stimulated saliva. In order to diagnose bacterial vaginosis, a gynecological examination was performed and vaginal smears were obtained. Subsequently, study participants were monitored for 12 months to determine if they were able to conceive a child.

According to the results of the study, P. gingivalis bacteria were much more likely to be present in the saliva samples of those women who were never able to become pregnant than in the saliva of successfully conceived participants (8.3% compared with 2.1%). The level of antibodies to this pathogen in the saliva and blood of the former was also significantly higher than in the latter. In addition, statistical analysis showed that these results did not depend on other risk factors associated with conception, for example, age, socio-economic status, previous childbirth, the presence of bacterial vaginosis and periodontal disease.

“Our study does not answer the question of why women suffer from infertility, but it shows that periodontal bacteria can have a systemic effect even if their number is not too large and there are no visible signs of gum disease,” said the periodontist and presenter study author Dr. Susanna Paju of the University of Helsinki.

The experimental group was very homogeneous in terms of socio-economic status and health status. However, the limitations of this study include the lack of information on the exact date of discontinuation of the use of contraceptives, the duration of any contraceptive methods, and whether the non-occurrence of pregnancy was associated with the study participants or their sexual partners .

“The relationship between P. gingivalis and non-pregnancy needs to be confirmed in otherwise planned studies involving more women; It is also required to find out the mechanism of this connection. Nevertheless, our results suggest that women of childbearing age should monitor their dental health and regularly check the periodontal condition to avoid periodontal infections, ”the authors of the study write.

The study “Porphyromonas gingivalis may interfere with conception in women” (“Porphyromonas gingivalis may interfere with conception”) was published on June 12 at the Journal of Oral Microbiology.

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