NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women with gum disease and high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) — a marker of inflammation in the body — are at increased risk of developing preeclampsia, a potentially serious complication involving high blood pressure that often leads to premature delivery.
“Maternal periodontal (gum) disease clearly contributes to an increased risk of preeclampsia,” lead investigator Dr. Michael Ruma told Reuters Health, “and our results demonstrate that this risk is further increased in the presence of elevated systemic inflammation.”
Ruma, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of data on 775 women who had taken part in a study of oral health and pregnancy.
In all, 31 women, or 4 percent, developed preeclampsia. Women with the highest levels of CRP were significantly more likely to develop preeclampsia than those with lower levels.
When compared to those without gum disease and CRP at any level, the risk was further elevated in women with both gum disease and elevated CRP levels.
“What remains to be seen,” concluded Ruma, “is whether treatment of maternal periodontal disease can reduce the rate of preeclampsia.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, April 2008.