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Keywords:

  • epidemiology;
  • folic acid;
  • parity;
  • education

Abstract

Nonsyndromic cleft lip with/without cleft palate (NSCLP) and nonsyndromic cleft palate only (NSCPO) are common complex birth defects affecting 4,000 newborns annually. We undertook a descriptive study of oral clefts in Texas, focusing on the effect of folic acid fortification and Hispanic ethnicity on the prevalence of oral clefts as these factors have not previously been described. Data on 896 infants with NSCLP and NSCPO born between 1995 and 1999 in Texas were compared to all births in Texas during the same period. Prevalence odds ratios (POR) were calculated for maternal ethnicity, race, age, parity, public health region of residence, highest level of education, and infant gender. The effect of folic acid fortification on oral clefts was also examined. Compared with whites, adjusted POR were 0.97 (95% CI = 0.77–1.23) and 0.90 (95% CI 0.72–1.14) for NSCLP and 0.46 (95% CI = 0.30–0.72) and 0.62 (95% CI = 0.42–0.90) for NSCPO in foreign-born and US-born Hispanics, respectively. After fortification was implemented, the rate of NSCLP did not decrease. However, there was a 13% decrease in the prevalence of NSCPO (adjusted POR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.68–1.15). Compared to whites, the rates in US-born and foreign-born Hispanic women were similar for NSCLP and much lower for NSCPO. The small reduction of 13% in NSCPO after folic acid fortification is imprecise and should be interpreted cautiously. Overall, it appears that folic acid fortification has had very little or no effect on the prevalence of oral clefts in infants born in Texas. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.