Chewing a sugar-free gum daily reduced preterm births in a large study in Malawi. The oral intervention was inspired by past research linking poor oral health and preterm birth. The gum contains xylitol — a chemical that can boost oral health — in place of regular sugar.
Among women who chewed the xylitol gum, 549 out of 4,349 pregnancies, or 12.6 percent, were preterm, researchers reported February 3 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s Annual Pregnancy Meeting. That’s a 24 percent reduction compared with the group who didn’t receive the gum. Among those women, 878 out of 5,321 pregnancies, or 16.5 percent, of the babies were born before 37 weeks.