In the United States alone, there is a 1/750 chance that a baby is born with isolated, also called non-syndromic, cleft lip and/or palate. While this condition can be corrected through various surgeries, families of the child with this condition can be inundated both emotionally and economically. Throughout the world, there are about 12 million women each year who smoke through pregnancies. About one in every 600 U.S. babies is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. The American Journal of Human Genetics published results from a study done at the University of Iowa demonstrating that if a pregnant woman smokes 16 cigarettes or more per day, the chances of her GSTT1-lacking fetus developing a cleft increase 20 fold.
Researchers at the University of Iowa have found through an international study that some babies are predisposed to cleft lip and/or palate because of their inability to detoxify and process cigarette smoke. The study showed that the fetuses lacking both copies of a gene used to thwart the smoke and have mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cleft lip. These scientists have compiled a last of 16 genes that are directly related in cigarette smoke toxicity and determined whether variations of these genes would influence a baby’s ability to remove the toxins. The researchers found that the GSTT1 gene made a significant contribution to clefting; this gene is responsible for 20 different enzymes in the body, specifically essential for common detoxification processes. The study also found that 60 percent of babies with Asian ancestry and 25 percent of babies of European ancestry do not possess copies of the gene called GSTT1. Without this gene, the baby is unable to eliminate the toxins from the smoke that has been spread across the placenta.
During any stage of life, it is always important to make healthy choices. A poor health decision is not always specific to one location in the body, but can very well affect many different areas of the body. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions!
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