Folic acid cuts risk of cleft lip

Jan 26, 2007

Taking folic acid supplements in early pregnancy seems to substantially reduce the risk of cleft lip, finds a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

It is widely known that taking folic acid in early pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The current recommended daily dose is 400µg starting before conception.

Some studies have suggested that folic acid may also help prevent facial clefts, but the question remains unresolved. So researchers set out to asses the possible effects of folic acid on facial clefts in Norway, which has one of the highest rates of facial clefts in Europe.

They identified infants born from 1996 to 2000; 377 with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate), 196 with cleft palate only, and 763 healthy controls.

All mothers were surveyed about their reproductive history, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and other exposures during early pregnancy. They were also asked to recall their diet during the first three months of pregnancy, whether they took folic acid supplements and, if so, when and how often they took them.

Women were asked similar questions about multivitamins, and the researchers then estimated each woman's total folic acid intake.

After adjusting for smoking and other confounding factors, they found that folic acid supplementation of 400µg or more a day reduced the risk of cleft lip with or without cleft palate by 40%.

Independent of supplements, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and other high folate containing foods reduced the risk by 25%. The lowest risk of cleft lip was among women with folate rich diets who also took folic acid supplements and multivitamins. Folic acid provided no protection against cleft palate alone, according to the results.

The authors acknowledge that their study alone cannot show that folic acid definitely prevents cleft lip. Combined with alll the previous evidence, however, their work does suggest a real preventive effect.

If folic acid is able to prevent a major birth defect in addition to neural tube defects, this benefit should be included among the risks and benefits of fortifying foods with folic acid, a matter of ongoing controversy in many countries, they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Drug research and development more efficient than expected

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Maternal diet and genes interact to affect heart development

Jul 06, 2010

A pregnant mother's diet may be able to interact with the genes her unborn child inherits and influence the type or severity of birth defect according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation ...

Scientists discover why teeth form in a single row

Feb 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A system of opposing genetic forces determines why mammals develop a single row of teeth, while sharks sport several, according to a study published today in the journal Science. When comple ...

Recommended for you

Drug research and development more efficient than expected

8 hours ago

Drug R&D costs have increased substantially in recent decades, while the number of new drugs has remained fairly constant, leading to concerns about the sustainability of drug R&D and question about the factors that could ...

Use new meningitis vaccines only for outbreaks

Feb 26, 2015

(AP)—A U.S. panel on Thursday recommended that two new meningitis vaccines only be used for rare outbreaks, resisting tearful pleas to give it routinely to teens and college students.

New antibiotic avycaz approved

Feb 26, 2015

(HealthDay)—The combination antibiotic Avycaz (ceftazidime-avibactam) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with complicated infections of the intra-abdominal area or urinary tract, ...

Tagging drugs to fight counterfeit medicines

Feb 25, 2015

The U.S. and other countries are enacting rules to clamp down on the sales of fake pharmaceuticals, which pose a public health threat. But figuring out a system to track and authenticate legitimate drugs still faces significant ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.