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The maternal Mediterranean dietary pattern is associated with a reduced risk of spina bifida in the offspring

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The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis whether a maternal dietary pattern is associated with the risk of spina bifida (SB) in the offspring. Design

Case–control study. Setting

Eight clinic sites in the Netherlands, 1999–2001. Sample

A total of 50 mothers of children with SB and 81 control mothers. Methods

Maternal food intakes were obtained by food frequency questionnaires at the standardised study moment of 14 months after the birth of the index child. Principal component factor analysis (PCA) and reduced rank regression (RRR) were used to identify dietary patterns. Main outcome measures

Maternal biomarkers were used as response measures in the RRR analysis and composed of serum and red blood cell (RBC) folate, serum vitamin B12 and total plasma homocysteine. The strength of the use of the dietary pattern in association with SB risk was estimated by odds ratios and 95% CI with the highest quartiles of the dietary pattern as reference. Results

A predominantly Mediterranean dietary pattern was identified by both PCA and RRR. Those dietary patterns were highly correlated (r = 0.51, P < 0.001) and characterised by joint intakes of fruit, vegetables, vegetable oil, alcohol, fish, legumes and cereals and low intakes of potatoes and sweets. We observed a significantly increased risk of SB offspring in mothers with a weak use of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, OR 2.7 (95% CI 1.2–6.1) and OR 3.5 (95% CI 1.5–7.9). The Mediterranean dietary pattern was correlated with higher levels of serum and RBC folate, serum vitamin B12 and lower plasma homocysteine. Conclusion

The Mediterranean dietary pattern seems to be associated with reduction in the risk of offspring being affected by SB.

Keywords: Factor analysis; Mediterranean diet; folate; neural tube defect; reduced rank regression

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine 2: Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands 3: The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, the Netherlands 4: Department of Bioinformatics

Publication date: February 1, 2009


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