Maternal corticosteroid use and orofacial clefts

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;197(6):585.e1-7; discussion 683-4, e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2007.05.046.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine whether maternal corticosteroid use during pregnancy is associated with delivering an infant with an orofacial cleft.

Study design: This study included data on deliveries from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which is a population-based case-control study. Exposures were assessed by telephone interviews for mothers of 1141 cases with cleft lip +/- cleft palate (CLP), 628 with cleft palate (CP), and 4143 controls.

Results: Mothers of 33 infants with CLP (2.9%), mothers of 6 infants with CP (1.0%), and 72 control subjects (1.7%) reported corticosteroid use from 4 weeks before through 12 weeks after conception. The crude odds ratio for "any" vs "no" use was 1.7 (95% CI, 1.1-2.6) for CLP and 0.5 (0.2-1.3) for CP. When analyzed by route of administration and medication components, odds ratios for CLP tended to be elevated, and odds ratios for CP tended to be close to 1.

Conclusion: Our results suggest a moderately increased risk of CLP among women who use corticosteroids during early pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cleft Lip / chemically induced*
  • Cleft Palate / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Glucocorticoids