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Dr. Stefanie Russell Awarded NYS Health Foundation Grant to Improve Oral Health Among Vulnerable Pregnant Women


The New York State Health Foundation has awarded Stefanie Russell,
DDS, MPH, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Health
Promotion, a one-year grant of $152,680 to address oral health deficiencies
among low-income, vulnerable pregnant women. The project seeks to improve their
access to dental screening and service referrals; increase knowledge among
patients and providers about the importance of oral care during pregnancy; and
facilitate dental care during pregnancy. It will do this by locating an on-site
dental clinic at the Bellevue Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic, which will be
staffed by NYU College of Dentistry providers.

Despite detrimental oral changes accompanying pregnancy and
the established causal relationship between a mother’s and her child’s oral
health, roughly 60% of women do not see a dentist during pregnancy. In fact,
women with the poorest oral health (minority, low-income, receiving Medicaid)
are least likely to see a dentist, with approximately two-thirds not seeing a dentist
during pregnancy.

The project will use evidence-based strategies adapted from
the 2012 national guidelines, "Oral Health During Pregnancy: A National
Consensus Statement"; namely, providing education for providers and patients
and integration of oral healthcare into the prenatal care system. It will
measure changes in both provider and patient behavior (over a six-month
implementation period) resulting from a collaborative health promotion program
between NYU College of Dentistry and the Bellevue OBGYN clinic that addresses
multiple barriers to oral health in this population.

"Our plan is evidence-based and our team has the experience
and motivation to successfully complete the project and to disseminate the
results to those who wish to use it as a model, wherever low-income pregnant
women are failing to obtain dental care," says Russell.

Dr. Russell plans to use data from this study to apply for a
larger-scale grant that will enable the clinic at Bellevue to achieve long-term
financial sustainability.