Risk of preterm birth associated with maternal gingival inflammation and oral hygiene behaviours in rural Nepal: A community-based, prospective cohort study

Daniel J. Erchick, Subarna K. Khatry, Nitin K. Agrawal, Joanne Katz, Steven C. Leclerq, Bhola Rai, Mark A. Reynolds, Luke C. Mullany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives Observational studies have identified associations between periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes, but randomised controlled trials evaluating the efficacy of periodontal therapy have yielded inconsistent results. Few studies have explored relationships between gingival inflammation and these outcomes or been conducted in rural, low-income communities, where confounding risk factors differ from other settings. Methods We conducted a community-based, prospective cohort study with the aim of estimating associations between the extent of gingival inflammation in pregnant women and incidence of preterm birth in rural Nepal. Our primary exposure was gingival inflammation, defined as bleeding on probing (BOP) ≥10%, stratified by BOP <30% and BOP ≥30%. A secondary exposure, mild periodontitis, was defined as ≥2 interproximal sites with probing depth (PD) ≥4 mm (different teeth) or one site with PD ≥5 mm. Our primary outcome was preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation). We used Poisson regression to model this relationship, adjusting for potential confounders. Results Of 1394 participants, 554 (39.7%) had gingival inflammation, 54 (3.9%) mild periodontitis and 197 (14.1%) delivered preterm. In the adjusted regression model, increasing extent of gingival inflammation was associated with a non-significant increase in risk of preterm birth (BOP ≥30% vs no BOP: adjusted relative risk (aRR) 1.37, 95% CI: 0.81 to 2.32). A secondary analysis, stratifying participants by when in pregnancy their oral health status was assessed, showed an association between gingival inflammation and preterm birth among women examined in their first trimester (BOP ≥30% vs no BOP: aRR 2.57, 95% CI: 1.11 to 5.95), but not later in pregnancy (BOP ≥30% vs no BOP: aRR 1.05, 95% CI: 0.52 to 2.11). Conclusions Gingival inflammation in women examined early in pregnancy and poor oral hygiene behaviours were risk factors for preterm birth. Future studies should evaluate community-based oral health interventions that specifically target gingival inflammation, delivered early in or before pregnancy, on preterm birth. Trial registration number Nepal Oil Massage Study, NCT01177111.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere036515
JournalBMJ open
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 20 2020


  • Community child health
  • Epidemiology
  • Obstetrics
  • Oral medicine
  • Perinatology
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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