Historical Studies

Fifteen years after the Danish study was published, again plastic surgeons Lyndon E. Peer, Beverly Douglas, Herbert Conway and their colleagues in the United States conducted initial studies attempting to prevent recurrence of orofacial clefts based on the knowledge of etiology of birth defects from the studies on experimental animals and in humans. Vitamins, including folic acid, were given to women at risk for having a child with a cleft in order to prevent recurrences. It is interesting to note that studies to prevent recurrences of orofacial clefts actually started much earlier than today’s well known studies of prevention of neural tube defects.

“The health and physiologic development of a fetus depends integrally on the mother’s nutritional status at its conception and her diet during pregnancy” (Warkany and Nelson, 1940).

“Even granting that a healthy pregnant women is receiving a good diet, it is probably not always true that she is necessarily getting enough vitamins to satisfy the demands of fetal organogenesis during the first trimester.”

— Beverly Douglas (1958)