New research links mothers' lack of folic acid with cleft lip and palate

July 5, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- New research by medics at Trinity College Dublin suggests that folic acid plays a vital role in preventing a major birth defect. This is in addition to the established protection against neural birth defect such as spina bifida The findings published in the July 2012 edition of the leading primary care journal, the British Journal of General Practice show that the risk of having Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) was more than four times higher if mothers had not taken folic acid in the first trimester.

These findings by researchers at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin will be of great benefit to women and healthcare practitioners involved in prenatal counselling, especially , who are advising women likely to conceive.

Trinity postgraduate research student and Ms Dervla Kelly is the first author on the paper and Dr Udo Reulbach, an and Clinical Research Fellow, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research and Departmentof Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, is the joint senior author.

Commenting on the significance of the research, Trinity’s Professor of General Practice Tom O’Dowd, a senior author on the paper stated: “This study supports the hypothesis of a further significant role of a daily folic acid supplement of 0.4mg taken 4 weeks before conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the prevention of ”.

A cleft lip is a separation in the upper lip while a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Clefts result from incomplete development of the lip and/or palate in the early weeks of pregnancy. Even when repaired, complications from CLP can lead to long-lasting complications such as persistent ear infections, speech impairments, facial deformities and dental problems.

Using a sample of 11,134 nine-month-olds from the Growing Up in Ireland study, a national study led by TCD and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), researchers found that over a third of mothers did not take a folic acid supplement prior to becoming pregnant while a minority did not during the first trimester. The main reason for women not taking a supplement was their being unaware that they were pregnant.

This study also highlights the socioeconomic factors associated with not taking folic acid during the . The benefits of this safe, simple and cheap supplement need to be promoted to all women who have any chance of becoming pregnant, according to the authors.

Explore further: Corticosteroid use during pregnancy not linked to facial clefts in infants

Related Stories

Corticosteroid use during pregnancy not linked to facial clefts in infants

April 11, 2011
The use of corticosteroids during pregnancy does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of orofacial clefts in infants, according to an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Overall quality of pregnant woman's diet affects risk for two birth defects, study shows

October 3, 2011
The overall quality of a pregnant woman's diet is linked with risk for two types of serious birth defects, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown. In the study, women who ate better before and ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PeterD
not rated yet Jul 05, 2012
This has been know for many years. I told my daughters this 25 years ago.

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.