The role of maternal nutrition in the aetiology of gastroschisis: an incident case-control study

Shantini Paranjothy, Hannah K. Broughton, Annette Evans, Simon Huddart, Mark Drayton, Robert Jefferson, Judith Rankin, Elizabeth Draper, Alan Cameron, Stephen R Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gastroschisis, a congenital anomaly involving a defect in the fetal abdominal wall, has increased in prevalence in many countries, but the aetiology is uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that high maternal alcohol consumption and poor diet in the first trimester are risk factors in a case?control study in the UK (1 July 2007 to 28 February 2010). Methods: Gastroschisis cases and three controls per case (matched for maternal age) were identified at 18- to 20-week routine anomaly screening ultrasound scan (USS). Interviews were carried out during the antenatal period (median 24 weeks' gestation) using a piloted questionnaire. Conditional logistic regression was used to describe the associations between exposure variables and gastroschisis, adjusted for known confounding variables. Results: The response rate was 73% for cases (n?=?91) and 70% for controls (n?=?217). High consumption of fruits and vegetables during the first trimester (aOR 0.2; 95% CI 0.04?0.6), taking folic acid for at least 6 weeks during the first trimester (aOR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1?0.7) and increasing body fat percentage of total maternal body weight (aOR 0.9; 95% CI 0.8?0.9 per 1% increase) were independently associated with reduced risk. Cigarette smoking (aOR 2.7; 95% CI 1.1?6.8) was an independent risk factor. Conclusion: We report for the first time that higher intake of fruits and vegetables during the first trimester, longer duration of folic acid supplementation and higher body fat percentage are associated with reduced risk of fetal gastroschisis, independent of cigarette smoking. The increased risk of cigarette smoking is greatest in older women and in high socio-economic groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1152
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

We wish to thank all the women who took the time to take part in this study, the research nurses who undertook interviews and data collection: Sandra Edwards-Fenton, Anne Chamberlain, Marit Bodley, Sharon Brown, Isobel Clegg, Catherine Collins and the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers (BINOCAR) for their support in facilitating this study.
S.R.P. had the initial idea for the study, S.P. and S.R.P. developed the initial study protocol with input from S.H., M.D., R.J., J.R., E.D. and A.C. H.B. managed the data collection in Wales, and training of interviewers and collation of results from the different regions. J.R. managed the project locally in the North of England and E.D. in East Midlands and South Yorkshire. A.E. carried out the statistical analysis. S.P. wrote the initial draft of the article and all authors contributed to editing the paper for intellectual content and producing the final version of this manuscript


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