Study results from the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program often find their way into the news. That’s because the topics are relevant in addressing the public’s concerns and improving health care.
HEALTH FACTORS & PREGNANCY EVENTS
Multivitamin Use: Babies born to mothers taking multivitamins with folic acid have a lower risk for many birth defects: 50% reduced risk of isolated cleft lip with/without cleft palate, 25% decreased risk of cleft palate, 30% less risk of serious heart defects, and 36% lower risk of limb defects. (While vitamins lower risk for neural tube defects by 35% overall, less risk reduction is seen in Latinos.)
Obesity: Neural tube defects occur nearly twice as often in pregnancies of women who are obese. Taking vitamins with folic acid does not mitigate the higher risk associated with obesity. Excluding diabetics from the analysis does not alter the findings.
Smoking: Mothers who smoke double the risk for having babies with cleft lip and/or palate. Infants who inherit a specific form of the gene involved in mouth/palate development are 8 times as likely to have oral clefts if their mothers smoke.
Stressful Life Events: Women who experience at least 1 stressful event-divorce, job loss or death of someone very close-are more likely to have babies with cleft lip/palate, neural tube defects and some heart defects.