Impact of time to maternal interview on interview responses in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study

Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jun 1;177(11):1225-35. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws352. Epub 2013 May 3.


Prenatal exposures often are assessed using retrospective interviews. Time from exposure to interview may influence data accuracy. We investigated the association of time to interview (TTI) with aspects of interview responses in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a population-based case-control study of birth defects in 10 US states. Mothers completed a computer-assisted telephone interview 1.5-24 months after their estimated date of delivery. Proxy metrics for interview quality were whether certain exposures were reported, whether the start month of reported medication use or illness was reported, or whether responses were missing. Interaction by case status was assessed. Interviews were completed with 30,542 mothers (22,366 cases and 8,176 controls) who gave birth between 1997 and 2007. Mothers of cases were interviewed later than were mothers of controls (11.7 months vs. 9.5 months, respectively). In adjusted analyses, having a TTI that was greater than 6 months was associated with only a few aspects of interview responses (e.g., start month of pseudoephedrine use). Interaction by case-control status was observed for some exposures; mothers of controls had a greater reduction in interview quality with increased TTI in these instances (e.g., report of morning sickness, start month of acetaminophen use and ibuprofen use). The results suggest that TTI might impact interview responses; however, the impact may be minimal and specific to the type of exposure.

Keywords: bias (epidemiology); case-control studies; interviews as topic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Design
  • United States / epidemiology