Birth DefectsFolic Acid

The association between folic acid deficiency and cleft palate

Norway has one of the highest rates of facial clefts in Europe and does not allow foods to be fortified with folic acid.

Now, it appears that this decision was a fateful one.

The study included all families of newborn infants with clefts (377 with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, and 196 with cleft palate only) born between 1996 and 2001 in Norway. They were compared to 763 babies without these birth defects. Questionnaires were used to profile the mothers’ diets.

The researchers estimated that 22% of babies with isolated cleft lip palate in Norway could be averted if all pregnant women took 0.4 mg of folic acid per day.

Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. This research suggests that folic acid also helps prevent facial clefts, another common birth defect.

1/28/07 22:35 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.