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Folic acid supplements reduce risk of cleft lip

Journal alert

Journal alert

Folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy can reduce the risk of cleft lip by 40 per cent.

A total of 377 infants born with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate) and 196 with cleft palate were compared with 763 healthy controls. Their mothers were asked whether they took folic acid supplements during the first three months of pregnancy.

After adjusting for smoking and other confounding factors, the researchers found that folic acid supplementation at 400µg or more a day reduced the risk of cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, by 40 per cent. However, folic acid did not protect against the occurrence of cleft palate alone.

Diets rich in fruit, vegetables and other high-folate containing foods reduced the risk of cleft lip by 25 per cent, irrespective of folate supplement intake. Women who took folate and multivitamin supplements and also had a folate-rich diet had the lowest risk of having an infant with cleft lip.

Wilcox AJ, Lie RT, Solvoll K et al. Folic acid supplements and risk of facial clefts: national population based case-control study BMJ 2007; doi:10.1136/bmj.39079.618287.0B

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