The objective of the study presented here was to check the debated human teratogenic potential of sulfonamide drugs. Five different sulfonamides such as sulfamethazine, sulfathiourea, sulfamethoxypyridazine, sulfamethoxydiazine and the combination of sulfamethazine-sulfathiourea-sulfamethoxypyridazine were differentiated. Cases with congenital abnormalities were compared with their matched controls without congenital abnormalities in the population-based large data set of the Hungarian Case-Control Surveillance of Congenital Abnormalities between 1980 and 1996. Of 38,151 newborn infants without any congenital abnormalities (control group), 163 (0.4%) had mothers who were treated with the sulfonamides studied during pregnancy, while of 22,843 cases with congenital abnormalities, 140 (0.6%) had mothers who were treated with the sulfonamides studied during pregnancy. The analysis of cases and matched controls indicated a higher rate of cardiovascular malformation (adjusted prevalence odds ratios [POR] with 95% CI: 3.5, 1.9-6.4) and clubfoot (adjusted POR with 95% CI: 2.6, 1.1-6.2) in infants born to mothers with sulfonamide treatment in the second and third months of pregnancy. The detailed analysis of different sulfonamides showed a possible association between cardiovascular malformations (adjusted POR with 95%; CI: 6.5, 2.6-15.9), particularly ventricular septal defect (17.1, 1.3-141.1) and sulfamethoxydiazine during the second and third months of pregnancy. In addition, a possible association was found between clubfoot and sulfathiourea, both during the entire pregnancy (adjusted POR with 95% CI: 2.3, 1.2-4.3) and in the second and third months of gestation (3.9, 1.1-13.8). Thus, maternal treatment of sulfamethoxydiazine may cause ventricular septal defect, while sulfathiourea may induce clubfoot; however, further studies are needed to verify or reject these associations.
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