Project Title:

Placental Oral Microbiota Associated with Preterm Labor in Hawai`i

Approximately 40% of pregnant women experience periodontal disease. Peridontal disease during pregnancy is associated with increased rates of preterm labor (PTL), preterm birth, and low birth weight infants. However, the exact mechanisms behind these associations are not clearly delineated. A significant association between maternal reports of dental problems prior to and during pregnancy and PTL has been documented in women in Hawaii. Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino women are groups with the highest rates of dental disease in Hawai`i.

The study is a first step in a planned collaborative prospective longitudinal study among the RTRN collaborating institutions. The sample for a future study will have a larger cohort of pregnant women who would have oral samples obtained each trimester and placental samples obtained at delivery to identify oral bacteria and any changes in the number and species type over time (in oral specimens) and their correlation with placental seeding of oral microbiota and the development of PTL. Identifying the prevalence and species type of oral microbiota responsible for seeding placental tissue that stimulate inflammatory responses contributing to PTL can guide in the development of clinical interventions in order to reduce rates of perinatal complications and costly systemic diseases associated with periodontal disease.