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Ann Epidemiol. 2000 Oct 1;10(7):476-477.

Prenatal tea consumption and risks of anencephaly and spina bifida.

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National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA, USA



To evaluate the relationship between prenatal tea consumption and risk of anencephaly and spina bifida.


Data from the population-based Atlanta Birth Defects Case-Control Study were examined. Cases were infants with anencephaly (n = 122) or spina bifida (r = 154) and no other associated anomalies, and identified between 1968 and 1980. Controls were infants without birth defects (n = 3029) identified from birth certificates of the same birth cohort and frequency matched to cases by race, period of birth, and hospital of birth.


Maternal tea consumption during the periconceptional period (3 months before through the first trimester of pregnancy) was reported at 82, 83.6, and 92.9% among controls, anencephaly, and spina bifida cases, respectively. With subjects whose mothers consumed no tea as a reference, odds ratios (OR) for tea consumption during the periconceptional period (adjusted for gender, race, period of birth, maternal age, education, alcohol consumption, smoking, and periconceptional multivitamins) were: anencephaly 0.9 (95% confidence limits (CI) 0.5-1.5); spina bifida 2.3 (CI 1.2-4.4). Odds ratios for spina bifida and number of cups of tea consumed/day were: 1-2 cups 2.1 (CI 1.1-4.0); 3+ cups 2.8 (CI 1.4-5.6). Consumption of other caffeinated beverages was not associated with risk for anencephaly or spina bifida.


Further studies are warranted to corroborate and elucidate the observed association between tea consumption and spina bifida.


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