Maternal Obesity Linked to Increased Risk of Orofacial Clefts in Infants


Obese women are 30% more likely than women of normal weight to give birth to an infant with an orofacial cleft, investigators have reported.

“One possible explanation is undetected type 2 diabetes. Obese women, in the absence of overt diabetes, have been found to have an impaired glucose metabolism, which may be associated with an increased risk for orofacial clefts,” wrote Marie Cedergren, M.D., of the University of Linköping, and her coinvestigator, Bengt Kallen, M.D., of Tornblad Institute at the University of Lund (Cleft Palate Craniofac. J. 2005;42:367–71).

Of almost 1 million infants born in Sweden from 1992 to 2001, 1,686 infants were born with orofacial clefts; 84% of the clefts were not associated with another major congenital malformation. Compared with infants born of normal weight mothers, infants of obese mothers had their risk increase by 28% for cleft palate, 14% for cleft lip, and 31% for both abnormalities.

The risk of orofacial clefting among these infants was significantly higher (odds ratio 1.88) when associated with other congential defects, but still elevated (OR 1.20) when clefting was the only defect.

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