Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Ron Munger


Inadequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy has been suggested as a risk factor for oral cleft birth defects including the major groupings of cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CL/P), and cleft palate alone (CP). Few studies have analyzed overall dietary patterns in relation to development of oral clefts. The purpose of this study is to examine the statistical associations between maternal dietary pattern scores and risk of oral clefts in Utah.

Data collected from the Utah Oral Cleft Study was used as a starting point. New variables were formed to define maternal dietary patterns using the SPSS statistical analysis program. Derived dietary pattern variables were compared among mothers of Utah children with oral clefts (445 cases) and mothers of unaffected children (410 controls); these included scores based on intake of the following groups of foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low‐fat dairy foods, and an overall diet score based on the DASH dietary intervention studies. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the risk of oral clefts by quintile of the food group and DASH scores while controlling for the potential confounding effects of maternal age, education, smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, and multivitamin use during pregnancy.

Logistic regression analysis indicated a 40% reduction in risk of oral clefts (CL/P and CP combined) (OR=0.60) in mothers in the highest vs. lowest quintile of whole grain intake. The


DASH dietary score was not significantly associated with risk of oral clefts. Periconceptional exposure to tobacco smoke and education levels were also associated with risk of CL/P.

Periconceptional dietary intake of whole grains may significantly reduce incidence of isolated CLP in the offspring.

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