Exposure to folic acid antagonists during the first trimester of pregnancy and the risk of major malformations

Authors

  • Ilan Matok,

    1. Departments of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation,
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  • Rafael Gorodischer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Paediatrics and
    2. Soroka Medical Centre,
    3. Clalit Health Services (Southern District), Beer-Sheva, Israel,
    4. BeMORE Collaboration (Ben-Gurion Motherisk Obstetric Registry of Exposure Collaboration), Beer-Sheva, Israel, and Toronto, Canada
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  • Gideon Koren,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology-Toxicology, Hospital for Sick Children, The University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada and
    2. BeMORE Collaboration (Ben-Gurion Motherisk Obstetric Registry of Exposure Collaboration), Beer-Sheva, Israel, and Toronto, Canada
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  • Daniella Landau,

    1. Paediatrics and
    2. Soroka Medical Centre,
    3. Clalit Health Services (Southern District), Beer-Sheva, Israel,
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  • Arnon Wiznitzer,

    1. Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev,
    2. Soroka Medical Centre,
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  • Amalia Levy

    1. Departments of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation,
    2. BeMORE Collaboration (Ben-Gurion Motherisk Obstetric Registry of Exposure Collaboration), Beer-Sheva, Israel, and Toronto, Canada
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Professor Gideon Koren, MD, FRCPC, FACMT, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tel: + 416 813 5780
Fax: + 416 813 7562
E-mail: gkoren@sickkids.ca

Abstract

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECT

• Previous studies have suggested a tendency of antifolate drugs to be associated with higher rates of neural tube defects.

WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS

• This study makes use of the data on abortuses, which is missed in many other studies. In this case, the abortion data were critical.

• The study documents that clinicians should avoid, as much as possible, the use of folic acid antagonists during the first trimester of pregnancy, when embryogenesis takes place.

AIM To investigate the safety of folic acid antagonists during the first trimester of pregnancy in a large cohort.

METHODS Computerized databases for medications dispensed from 1998 to 2007 to women registered in ‘Clalit’ HMO, Israel southern district, was linked with maternal and infant hospitalization records, and to therapeutics abortions data. The risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes of folic acid antagonists exposure was assessed by adjusting for known confounders.

RESULTS Eighty-four thousand, eight hundred and twenty-three infants were born and 998 therapeutic abortions took place; 571 fetuses and infants were exposed to one or more folic acid antagonists in the first trimester of pregnancy. Exposure was associated with an overall increased risk of congenital malformations [odds ratio (OR) 2.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.92, 3.08], due mainly to increased risk for neural tube (adjusted OR 6.5, 95% CI 4.34, 9.15) and cardiovascular defects (OR 1.76, CI 1.05, 2.95).

CONCLUSION First-trimester exposure to folic acid antagonists is associated with increased risk of congenital malformations.

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