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A trip to the dentist could save a trip to the NICU


Syracuse, NY (September 4, 2017) – September is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month, and St. Joseph’s Health says improved oral health could help reduce the number of premature births that come through their Level III NICU.

“Hormones fluctuate during pregnancy, causing teeth to loosen. That puts pregnant women at a higher risk of infections, specifically in the form of periodontitis and/or gingivitis,” said James Brown, M.D., Medical Director for Women’s and Children’s Services at St. Joseph’s Health.

At least 70 percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness (nausea and vomiting), according to March of Dimes. Morning sickness can increase the level of acid in the mouth and puts pregnant women at a greater risk of having poor oral health.

“Pregnancy provides a teachable moment, as women are concerned with the health of their baby – so it’s a great opportunity to improve their own overall health, including oral health,” Dr. Brown adds.

In addition to its Level III NICU, St. Joseph’s Health offers a dental residency and dental clinic, making dental health accessible to the greater Syracuse community.

Local NICU Facts:

  • Report Cards: Each year, March of Dimes releases premature birth report cards by state and county. Grades of A-F are given based on the preterm birth rate. New York State and Onondaga County both received ‘B’ ratings. By those same standards, St. Joseph’s Health would earn an ‘A’ rating.

  • “Guardians” of the NICU: St. Joseph’s Health Hospital was the only hospital in CNY to be named a Guardian of Excellence AwardSM winner for Neonatal Intensive Care Patient Experience by Press Ganey® in 2017. The Guardian of Excellence Award recognizes top-performing health care organizations that have consistently achieved the 95th percentile (or higher) in their performance. The 2018 awards will be announced in November.

  • Reducing the Risk: St. Joseph’s Health recently received a grant from the CNY Care Collaborative to reduce premature births in CNY. St. Joseph’s Health is implementing new tools at OBGYN offices throughout the community to improve screenings, referrals and follow-up appointments related to common risk factors, such as tobacco use, alcohol and substance abuse, stress and oral health.


About St. Joseph’s Health

St. Joseph’s Health is a regional non-profit health care system based in Syracuse, NY. Offering primary, specialty and home care, a Magnet-recognized hospital, and collaboration with community partners, St. Joseph's Health advances the well-being of the communities we serve through an expanding range of services to ensure our patients achieve optimum long-term health. St. Joseph’s is ranked by Consumer Reports among the top 15 heart surgery centers in the country, a designated Stroke Center, a U.S. News “Best Regional Hospital” and the only hospital in Onondaga County to be awarded an ‘A’ rating by Leapfrog® Hospital Safety Grades. St. Joseph’s Health is affiliated with Franciscan Companies and St. Joseph’s Physicians, and is a member of Trinity Health.

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