The March of Dimes Ohio Chapter has awarded a $6,386 grant for 2009 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for a program led by Homa Amini, DDS, MS, MPH, chief of Pediatric Dentistry at Nationwide and a clinical associate professor of Pediatric Dentistry at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry.
The March of Dimes Program Services Committee members at both the Division and Chapter levels reviewed all grant applications and recommended selected proposals for funding. Those recommendations were then reviewed and approved by the Chapter Board.
Grant funding will be used to support a prenatal oral health program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The program will serve pregnant women referred for services, regardless of age. The goal of the program is to incorporate oral health education and screening into prenatal care programs targeting low income and minority women.
Despite improved oral health over the past two decades, oral disease remains a significant health problem for certain U.S. populations. One sub-group at significant risk for oral disease and lack of access to dental care are low-income pregnant women. The complex physiological changes that accompany pregnancy can adversely affect oral health, especially if affected women cannot access dental care. Maternal periodontal disease has been linked to pre-term and low-birth weight deliveries and improving a pregnant woman’s oral health may lessen her risk of delivering pre-term. Also, strong evidence implicates maternal transmission of bacteria to infants causing Early Childhood Caries (ECC), a disease affecting one in 10 low-income children by three years of age. ECC often requires costly treatment and has been associated with failure-to-thrive and other negative effects on quality of life.
Amini’s goal is to implement an intervention model that incorporates oral health education and screening into community prenatal care programs and increases access to dental services through case management and education of providers. Through partnership with community prenatal programs in Franklin County, dental health risk factors will be addressed through counseling. Those identified with dental needs will be assisted in linking to dental providers through a case manager.