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Occupational exposure to organic solvent mixtures during pregnancy and the risk of non-syndromic oral clefts
  1. C Chevrier1,
  2. B Dananché2,
  3. M Bahuau3,
  4. A Nelva4,
  5. C Herman5,
  6. C Francannet6,
  7. E Robert-Gnansia4,
  8. S Cordier1
  1. 1Inserm U625, Rennes, France
  2. 2Institut Universitaire de Médecine du Travail, Lyon, France
  3. 3Service de Chirurgie Maxillo-faciale, Service de Biochimie et Biologie Moléculaire, Hôpital Trousseau, Paris, France
  4. 4Institut Européen des Génomutations, Lyon, France
  5. 5CEMC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France
  6. 6Service de Génétique, Hôtel-Dieu, Clermont-Ferrand, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C Chevrier
 Inserm U625, GERHM, IFR140, Campus de Beaulieu, Université de Rennes I, Rennes cedex F-35042 France; cecile.chevrier{at}


Objectives: To examine the association between maternal occupational exposure to mixtures of organic solvents during pregnancy and the risk of non-syndromic oral clefts.

Methods: A case-control study (164 cleft lip with/without cleft palate (CL/P), 76 cleft palate (CP), 236 controls) was conducted in France to investigate the role of maternal occupational exposure to organic solvents at the beginning of pregnancy in the risk of non-syndromic oral clefts. An expert chemist, guided by a detailed description of the women’s occupational tasks, assessed exposure for each. Analysis of the findings used logistic regression.

Results: In the control group, 39% of the women who reported working during pregnancy were exposed to at least one type of organic solvent. The risk of oral clefts was associated with oxygenated (for CL/P: OR = 1.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.9; and for CP, OR = 1.4, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.7), chlorinated (OR = 9.4, 95% CI 2.5 to 35.3; OR = 3.8, 95% CI 0.7 to 20.7), and petroleum (OR = 3.6, 95% CI 1.5 to 8.8; OR = 1.2, 95% CI 0.3 to 4.9) solvents. The risk of oral clefts increased linearly with level of exposure within the three subgroups of oxygenated solvents we considered (aliphatic alcohols, glycol ethers, and other oxygenated solvents, including esters, ketones, and aliphatic aldehydes).

Conclusions: Results suggest that maternal occupational exposure to organic solvents during pregnancy may play a role in the aetiology of oral clefts. The limited number of subjects and the problem of multiple exposures require that these results be interpreted cautiously.

  • CL/P, cleft lip with/without cleft palate
  • CP, cleft palate only
  • cleft lip
  • cleft palate
  • occupational exposure
  • solvents
  • maternal exposure

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  • Published Online First 27 April 2006

  • Funding: this research was supported by a fellowship from the Fondation Recherche Médicale. We acknowledge financial support from Inserm (Program Interactions entre les déterminants de la Santé) and from the French Ministry of Environment (Program Recherche en Environment-Santé).

  • Competing interests: none declared