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Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Jun 15;147(12):1103-11.

Maternal smoking, body mass index, and neural tube defects.

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Tornblad Institute, University of Lund, Sweden.


The Swedish health registries were used to investigate a possible effect on the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) of maternal smoking and maternal body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2). Among 1,199,701 infants born in 1983-1993 with known smoking exposure in early pregnancy, 621 infants with NTDs were selected. After controlling for year of birth, maternal age, parity, education level, BMI, and immigrant status (yes/no), a highly significant, protective effect of maternal smoking on the incidence of NTDs was found. The adjusted odds ratios (OR) and (95% confidence intervals (CI)) for maternal smoking among infants with NTDs (total), anencephaly, and spina bifida were 0.75 (0.61-0.91), 0.49 (0.28-0.85), and 0.76 (0.61-0.95), respectively. A protective dose-response effect of smoking was indicated but was not statistically significant. The association between NTDs and maternal BMI found in earlier studies was supported. Women with BMI >26.0 were found to be at higher risk of having an infant with NTD compared with women in other BMI classes (adjusted OR=1.35, 95% CI 1.00-1.83). For women with BMI > or =29, the corresponding odds ratio was 1.29 (0.81-2.05). No obvious explanation was found, either for the detected association between NTDs and BMI, or for the protective effect of maternal smoking.

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