Increased risk for transverse digital deficiency after chorionic villus sampling: results of the United States Multistate Case-Control Study, 1988-1992

Teratology. 1995 Jan;51(1):20-9. doi: 10.1002/tera.1420510104.


Although numerous infants have been reported with transverse limb deficiencies after their mothers had undergone chorionic villus sampling (CVS), it has been unclear whether the procedure caused these defects. We report the results of the first multistate case-control study to assess and quantify the risk for specific limb deficiencies associated with CVS. Case subjects were 131 infants with nonsyndromic limb deficiency ascertained from 7 population-based birth defect surveillance programs, and born from 1988-1992 to mothers 34 years of age or older. Control subjects were 131 infants with other birth defects. We ascertained exposure to CVS from medical records and maternal and physician questionnaires. We assessed rates and timing of exposure to CVS, and estimated relative and absolute risks for anatomic subtypes of limb deficiency. The odds ratio for all types of limb deficiency after CVS from 8-12 weeks' gestation was 1.7 (95% confidence interval, 0.4-6.3). For specific anatomic subtypes, the strongest association was for transverse digital deficiency (odds ratio = 6.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-38.6). The risk for transverse digital deficiency increased with earlier gestational exposure (P < 0.01 for trend). We estimated that the absolute risk for transverse digital deficiency in infants after CVS was 1 per 2,900 births (0.03%). Exposure to CVS was associated with a sixfold increase in risk for transverse digital deficiency. The causality of this association is supported by its strength, specificity, biologic plausibility, and consistency with the results of previous studies. Although some centers already inform patients about risk for limb deficiency, this study quantifies the magnitude of risk associated with CVS from 8-12 weeks' gestation.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chorionic Villi Sampling / adverse effects*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology
  • Fingers / abnormalities*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Limb Deformities, Congenital
  • Odds Ratio
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Toes / abnormalities*
  • United States / epidemiology