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Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Aug;110(2 Pt 1):378-84.

Maternal Western dietary patterns and the risk of developing a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.

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  • 1Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology/Division of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



To identify maternal dietary patterns in association with a cleft lip or cleft palate or both in the offspring.


In a case-control study of 203 mothers of a child with a cleft lip or cleft palate and 178 mothers with non-malformed offspring, maternal nutritional intakes were assessed 14 months after the birth of the index child to estimate the preconception intake. We measured serum and red blood cell folate, serum vitamin B12, whole blood vitamin B6, and total plasma homocysteine as biomarkers. Dietary patterns were analyzed by factor analysis. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals calculated.


Two major dietary patterns were identified. The Western dietary pattern, eg, high in meat, pizza, legumes, and potatoes, and low in fruits, was associated with a higher risk of a cleft lip or cleft palate (odds ratio 1.9; 95% confidence interval 1.2-3.1). This risk remained significant after adjustment for potential confounders of maternal education and smoking at the time of the study, and periconception use of folic acid or multivitamins. This dietary pattern was associated with lower red blood cell folate (P=.02), vitamin B6 (P=.001), vitamin B12 (P=.02), and higher homocysteine (P=.05) concentrations. The use of the Prudent pattern, eg, high intakes of fish, garlic, nuts, vegetables, increased vitamin B12 (P<.001) and serum folate (P=.05) levels, was not associated with cleft lip or cleft palate risk compared with the Western diet.


The use of the maternal Western diet increases the risk of offspring with a cleft lip or cleft palate approximately two fold. Therefore, dietary and lifestyle profiles should be included in preconception screening programs.



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