Sociodemographic, health behavioral, and clinical risk factors for anotia/microtia in a population-based case-control study

National Birth Defects Prevention Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Anotia and microtia are congenital malformations of the external ear with few known risk factors. We conducted a comprehensive assessment of a wide range of potential risk factors using data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), a population-based case-control study of non-chromosomal structural birth defects in the United States. Methods: Mothers of 699 infants with anotia or microtia (cases) and 11,797 non-malformed infants (controls) delivered between 1997 and 2011 were interviewed to obtain information about sociodemographic, health behavioral, and clinical characteristics. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated with logistic regression. Results: Infants with anotia/microtia were more likely to be male (aOR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.10–1.50) and from a multifetal pregnancy (aOR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.16–2.42). Cases were also more likely to have parents of Hispanic ethnicity (maternal aOR, 3.19; 95% CI, 2.61–3.91; paternal aOR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.54–2.88), and parents born outside the United States (maternal aOR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.06–1.57; paternal aOR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.53–2.41). Maternal health conditions associated with increased odds of anotia/microtia included obesity (aOR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.06–1.61) and pre-pregnancy diabetes (type I aOR, 9.89; 95% CI, 5.46–17.92; type II aOR, 4.70; 95% CI, 2.56–8.63). Reduced odds were observed for black mothers (aOR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.38–0.85) and mothers reporting daily intake of folic acid-containing supplements (aOR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.46–0.76). Conclusion: We identified several risk factors for anotia/microtia, some which have been previously reported (e.g., diabetes) and others which we investigate for perhaps the first time (e.g., binge drinking) that warrant further investigation. Our findings point to some potentially modifiable risk factors and provide further leads toward understanding the etiology of anotia/microtia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Anotia
  • Birth defect
  • Congenital malformation
  • Ear
  • Microtia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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