Maternal occupation and the risk of neural tube defects in offspring

We evaluated the association between maternal occupation and the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) in offspring. Data for 491 nonsyndromic cases were obtained from the Texas Birth Defects Registry for deliveries between 1999 and 2009. We randomly selected 2,291 controls among all live births in Texas during this time. Maternal occupations were classified using automated software and manual assignment. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine the relationship between maternal occupation and risk for any NTD, adjusting for maternal race/ethnicity, any diabetes, and maternal body mass index. These analyses were repeated for spina bifida specifically. Some maternal occupations, particularly those related to business/finance, health care practice, and cleaning/maintenance, were significantly associated with increased risk of spina bifida and/or any NTD. Further research is needed to identify the specific occupational exposures related to NTD risk.