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Clarke et al. suggested that women who have had a spontaneous abortion are at an increased risk in their next pregnancy of producing an offspring with a neural tube defect (NTD). A matched case-control study was carried out to test the related hypothesis that a spontaneous abortion occurring in the 6-month period prior to the conception of a pregnancy (recent spontaneous abortion) is a risk factor for the development of an NTD in that pregnancy. The cases were 177 singleton pregnancies to non-primigravida Leicestershire women, which were affected by non-syndromal NTDs between 1976 and 1989. Two control pregnancies were matched with each case on intended place of delivery and date of maternal last normal menstrual period (LNMP). After adjusting for potential confounders, recent spontaneous abortion was found to be associated with a decreased relative risk of neural tube defect, odds ratio 0.46, 95% confidence interval 0.20, 1.07. The result provided little evidence in favour of the hypothesis, suggesting instead that prior spontaneous abortion has a protective effect in relation to subsequent NTD development rather than being a major risk factor in the aetiology of NTDs.


Journal article


Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol

Publication Date





167 - 176


Abortion, Spontaneous, Adolescent, Adult, Case-Control Studies, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Neural Tube Defects, Odds Ratio, Parity, Pregnancy, Risk Factors