Bacteria from a mother’s mouth can be transmitted through the blood and amniotic fluid in the womb to her unborn child, posing a potentially great risk to the infant. This evidence could have an important implication for women and babies’ health since simple improvement of dental hygiene may help to reduce the incidence of unknown complications in pregnancy and newborn babies.
At the Society for General Microbiology (UK) meeting on the 31st of March, Cecilia Gonzales-Marin and colleagues from Queen Mary University of London, described how they had tested the stomach contents of 57 newborn babies, and that the amniotic fluid contained there held as many as 46 different species of bacteria. The most prevalent bacteria in the samples may have come from the vagina; however, two of the frequently seen species were recognized as coming from the mouth and are not normally found elsewhere in the body. These particular bacteria, Granulicatella elegans and Streptococcus sinensis, are known to be able to enter the bloodstream and have previously been associated with infections both in and out of the mouth.
Gonzales-Marin's research group is using DNA techniques to confirm if bacteria from the newborn matches the bacteria in the respective mother’s mouth, but it certainly appears by work so far that germs from a mother with poor oral health can be later found in the infant. Oral health care is extremely important for pregnant women -- poor oral health contributes to the risk of a premature delivery, a low birth-weight baby, premature onset of contractions, or rampant infection.