Maternal alcohol use and risk of orofacial cleft birth defects

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Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy is a known cause of birth defects associated with the fetal alcohol syndrome, but its role in more common, isolated, craniofacial birth defects is not well understood. A population-based, case-control study of orofacial clefts was conducted in Iowa using births during 1987-1991. Cases were identified by the Iowa Birth Defects Registry and classified as having a cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CLP) or cleft palate only (CP) and whether the cleft was isolated or occurred with other birth defects. Controls were selected from normal Iowa births. Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy was classified according to self-reported drinks consumed per month. Results are based on 302 controls and the following numbers in each case group: 118 isolated CLP, 56 isolated CP, 51 CLP with multiple defects, and 62 CP with multiple defects. Compared to women who did not drink alcohol during pregnancy, the relative odds of isolated CLP rose with increasing level of maternal drinking as follows: 1-3 drinks per months, 1.5; 4-10 drinks per month, 3.1; more than 10 drinks per month, 4.7 (chi-square test for trend, P = 0.003). Adjustment for maternal smoking, vitamin use, education, and household income did not substantially alter these results. No significant association was found between alcohol use and isolated cleft palate or clefts in children with multiple birth defects. Alcohol use during pregnancy may be a cause of isolated cleft lip with or without cleft palate.


Adult, Alcohol Drinking/adverse effects, Case-Control Studies, Cleft Lip/chemically induced/epidemiology, Cleft Palate/chemically induced/epidemiology, Confounding Factors (Epidemiology), Female, Humans, Iowa/epidemiology, Mothers, Pregnancy, Registries, Risk Factors

Published Article/Book Citation

Teratology, 54:1 (1996) pp.27-33.

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