Discoveries and Data: Specific Conditions

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title_bd_clefts_study-6333884

25%-50% RISK REDUCTION WITH FOLIC ACID AND VITAMINS

The California Birth Defects Monitoring Program was the first to report a protective effect from multivitamins with folic acid and oral clefts. Our continued search to understand this effect investigates the role of genes that may alter folic acid metabolism.

bullet-5525031 Mothers taking multivitamins containing folic acid are less likely to have babies with oral clefts. Risk reductions range from 25%-50%, depending on the type of cleft. ref_book-5911047 pdf_logo-5656533
bullet-5525031 Among women not taking multivitamins, those who eat fortified cereal daily have lower risks for oral clefts.
bullet-5525031 The risk for oral clefts is not affected by the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR). ref_book-5911047

GENE INTERACTION RAISES SMOKING RISK

About 1 in 4 California women smoke during pregnancy. But some infants may be genetically more susceptible to mothers’ smoking. The Program looked at mothers’ smoking habits in combination with a gene normally involved in development of the palate and mouth—the transforming growth factor-alpha gene (TGFa). We found:

bullet-5525031 Women who smoke during pregnancy are 1.5-2 times as likely to have babies with oral clefts. The more cigarettes the mother smokes, the higher the risk.
bullet-5525031 The hazards of smoking are even greater for the 1 in 7 babies with a cleft-susceptiblity gene (the A2 form of TGFa). They are 8 times as likely to have oral clefts if their mothers smoke. Those born to nonsmoking mothers are at no greater risk.
bullet-5525031 Nonsmoking mothers exposed to secondhand smoke have only a small, if any, increased risk. The father’s smoking increases the risk for oral clefts only if the mother smokes too.
bullet-5525031 Cutting out smoking could prevent more than 200 oral clefts in California each year. ref_book-5911047 pdf_logo-5656533

BINGE ALCOHOL DRINKING DANGEROUS

bullet-5525031 Women who drink alcohol regularly—weekly or even daily—do not have a higher risk of having babies with oral clefts compared to non-drinkers.
bullet-5525031 However, “binge” drinking—5 or more drinks per occasion—weekly or more often increases cleft lip and palate risk 3-7 times. ref_book-5911047
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