This report describes recent efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Oral Health, to understand more fully women's knowledge and attitudes regarding oral health and dental visits during pregnancy. Using data from the CDC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), investigators are conducting both quantitative and qualitative research on these issues. PRAMS is an ongoing state-based and population-based surveillance survey of women's attitudes, experiences, and behaviors before, during, and after pregnancy. Findings have shown that most mothers did not make a dental visit during pregnancy, and of those who reported having oral problems, one-half did not seek care. Preliminary analysis of qualitative results shows that some women may believe that poor oral health status during pregnancy is normal; also, they may fear certain aspects of dental care during pregnancy. For example, some women may believe that they or their fetus could be harmed by treatment. If pregnancy modifies perceptions of oral health and dental care in women, it may contribute to women's avoidance of dental treatment while pregnant. Therefore, researchers and health program planners should give increased attention to the oral health needs and behaviors of pregnant women.
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