Low-income pregnant women are at even greater risk. Dangers include pre-term delivery, low birth-weight and even a predisposition toward dental health problems for the child.
Research shows that periodontal diseases in pregnant women may increase the risk of pre-term and low weight birth. Annually, more than 2,400 babies (11 percent of births) in the rural areas of Sullivan County and the outskirts of Ulster County are born preterm, and the rate of low birth weight is 6.4 percent. Preterm delivery increases infants’ risk of death and lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung and gastrointestinal problems, and vision and hearing loss.
Most of the mothers that PRASAD CDHP serves are enrolled with the Community Health Worker Program, which assists low-income clients in accessing the services they need during their pregnancy. Other organizations in Sullivan County who serve infants and pregnant women are WIC, Head Start, Public Health Services and Healthy Beginnings. PRASAD CDHP works with these organizations and agencies to reach the many women and infants in need of support. Find links to these organizations in our Resource Room.
The family education component of the program is vital. Aboard the mobile clinic, a patient looks at a poster that shows the symptoms of tooth decay caused by baby bottles. “It’s an educational environment. They don’t just tell you why you should take care of your teeth, they show you, and it helps my kids. I brush my teeth with my kids, now. It’s a family activity.”