Maternal nutrient intakes and risk of orofacial clefts

Epidemiology. 2006 May;17(3):285-91. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000208348.30012.35.


Background: Information about nutritional factors as potential risks of orofacial clefts is limited.

Methods: In this population-based case-control study, we investigated whether periconceptional intakes of supplemental folic acid, dietary folate, and several other nutrients were associated with orofacial clefts. We included data on deliveries from 1997 through 2000 in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Orofacial cleft cases were infants or fetuses born with cleft palate (CP) or with cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CLP). Infants without malformations were eligible as controls. Interview participation was 71% among case mothers and 68% among control mothers. Interviews were completed for 704 CLP cases, 404 CP cases, and 2594 controls.

Results: The odds ratio (OR) for CLP associated with use of vitamin supplements containing folic acid was 0.88 (95% confidence interval = 0.73-1.07) and for CP was 1.09 (0.84-1.40). Adjusting for maternal race/ethnicity, age, and education produced an OR of 1.01 (0.82-1.24) for CLP and 1.02 (0.77-1.34) for CP. We found some evidence for decreased CLP risks (>or=30% reduction in risk) with increasing intakes of total protein, choline, and methionine. Decreased CP risk was associated with increased intake of cysteine. Intakes of only 2 micronutrients, iron and riboflavin, were found to reduce CLP risk when adjusted for other nutrients.

Conclusion: Our observations contribute to the limited body of evidence suggesting a woman's periconceptional diet may influence clefting risks in her offspring. Our finding of no reduction in clefting risk with periconceptional use of supplements containing folic acid is inconsistent with many previous observations but not all.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cleft Lip / etiology*
  • Cleft Lip / prevention & control
  • Cleft Palate / etiology*
  • Cleft Palate / prevention & control
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • United States / epidemiology