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Maternal alcohol binges increase risk of infant's oral health problem
Updated: 8/4/2008 12:00:39 PM

A new study has suggested that women who binge drink in early pregnancy are more likely to have babies born with oral clefts.

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that mothers-to-be who consumed an average of five or more drinks per sitting were more than twice as likely as non-drinkers to have a child suffering from an infant oral cleft lip or cleft palate or the two together, ScienceDaily reports.

The risk increases three-fold for women who drink at this level on three or more occasions during the first trimester.

A cleft lip refers to a problem of the skin tissue in the top of the lip, which creates either a small gap or indentation or continues into the nose.

Cleft palate is a condition in which the two plates of the skull that form the hard palate (roof of the mouth) are not completely joined and occurs in about one in 700 births. In most cases the infant is also suffering from a cleft lip.

Dr Lisa A DeRoo, one the study's authors, was quoted in ScienceDaily as saying: "These findings reinforce the fact that women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol, especially excessive amounts at one time, can adversely affect the fetus and may increase the risk of infant clefts."
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