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עמוד בית
Wed, 06.12.23

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December 2014
Yehoshua Shapira DMD, Itay Blum DMD, Ziona Haklai MSc, Nir Shpack DMD and Yona Amitai MD MPH

Background: Orofacial clefts are the most common craniofacial congenital malformations, with significant anatomic, ethnical, racial and gender differences.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, distribution and characteristic features of various types of non-syndromic clefts among Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective multi-center survey in 13 major hospitals in Israel for the period 1993–2005. To obtain the true prevalence and detailed clinical characteristics, data on liveborn infants with non-syndromic clefts were obtained from the Ministry of Health's National Birth Defect Registry and completed by chart reviews in the 13 surveyed hospitals.

Results: Of 976,578 liveborn infants, 684 presented unilateral or bilateral clefts, with a prevalence of 7.00/10,000 live births; 479 were Jews and 205 were Arabs. The prevalence was higher among Arabs compared to Jews (11.12 and 6.22 per 10,000 live births in Arabs and Jews, respectively, P < 0.00001). Males had higher cleft rates than females (7.69/10,000 and 6.17/10,000 live births, respectively, P = 0.05). Males had more cleft lips with or without cleft palate, while females had more isolated cleft palates

(P < 0.001). There was left-side predominance. Newborns of younger mothers (age < 20 years) and of older mothers (age ≥ 45 years) had higher cleft rates than those with mothers in the 20–44 year bracket (P < 0.009). Children born at or above the 5th birth order had a higher cleft rate (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The prevalence of non-syndromic clefts was 7.00/10,000 live births. The markedly higher rate in Arabs is related to the high rate of consanguinity. Both very young and old maternal age represents a higher risk of clefts in their offspring. 

July 2013
G. Korchia, Y. Amitai, G. Moshe, L. Korchia, A. Tenenbaum, J. Rosenblum and A. Schechter

Background: Hypovitaminosis D is common worldwide, even in sunny regions.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence and determinants of vitamin D deficiency in toddlers.

Methods: A cross-sectional prospective study was conducted in healthy Jewish children aged 1.5–6 years at five primary care pediatric clinics in the Jerusalem area during the period October 2009 to November 2010. Parents were interviewed regarding personal and demographic data and sun exposure. Blood samples were obtained for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25-OHD] level. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency were defined as 25-OHD < 20 ng/ml and < 30 ng/ml, respectively.

Results: Of 247 children studied, 188 (76%) were ultra-Orthodox and 59 (24%) were Orthodox, traditional or secular. Mean (± SD) 25-OHD level was 25.7 ± 10 ng/ml. Only 73 children (29.6%) had sufficient 25-OHD levels, 104 (42.1%) had insufficiency, and 70 (28.3%) had 25-OHD deficiency. The difference between ultra-Orthodox and others was insignificant (25 ± 10 vs. 27.8 ± 10.5 ng/ml respectively, P = 0.062). Children aged 1.5–3 years had higher 25-OHD levels than those aged 3–6 years (28.6 ± 10.7 and 24 ± 9.2 ng/ml respectively, P < 0.001). Vitamin D deficiency was more common in winter (53%) and autumn (36%) than in summer (19%) and spring (16%). Toddlers attending long-day kindergartens had higher 25-OHD level than those staying at home or at short-day kindergartens (28.8 ± 11.5 and 24.7 ± 9.6 ng/ml respectively, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: A high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was found in toddlers in our study, mainly in older children and in the winter and autumn. We recommend routine supplementation of vitamin D for children beyond the agear.

November 2008
Shaden Salameh, MD, Teddy Weiss, MD and Yona Amitai, MD MPH
September 2006
J. Zlotogora, Y. Amitai and A. Leventhal

Background: Open neural tube defects are among the most common severely disabling birth defects. Secondary prevention by early diagnosis during pregnancy and abortion of affected fetuses lead to a marked reduction of NTD[1] incidence at birth. For primary prevention of these defects, in August 2000 the Israel Ministry of Health issued guidelines recommending a daily 0.4 mg folic acid supplement for all women in their childbearing years with special emphasis on the 3 months preceding conception and the first trimester of pregnancy.

Objectives: To compare the epidemiologic characteristics of NTD in Israel before and after the guidelines for folic acid supplementation.

Methods: A national registry of NTD was begun in 1999. Since the Ministry of Health published the recommendation for folic acid supplementation in mid-2000, the years 1999–2000 represent the status prior to the recommendation and the years 2002–2004 the status after.

Results: A marked decline in the rate of spina bifida was observed in the last 3 years (from 4.9 to 2.7 per 10,000 live births among Jews and 9.5 to 6.2 among Arabs and Druze). There was no apparent reduction for anencephaly.

Conclusions: Following the Ministry of Health guidelines on folic acid supplementation for women in the reproductive age, a marked reduction in the rates of NTD was observed. In light of this apparent success, continuous efforts should be made to increase the percentage of women taking the supplementation and, especially, to introduce folic acid fortification.

[1] NTD = neural tube defects

September 2004
R. Tauman, S.H. Reisner, Y. Amitai, J. Wasser, H. Nehama and Y. Sivan

Background: Prone sleeping has been recognized as a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. Ten years ago, non-prone sleeping was recommended in many countries around the world including Israel. The rate of infants sleeping prone and the rate of parents' adherence with the recommendations have not been studied.

Objectives: To study infants' sleep position and parents’ adherence to recommendations, and to identify risk factors for prone sleeping following the campaign to prevent prone sleeping in the Israeli population.

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal telephone survey with the parents of 608 randomly selected 2 month old infants, repeated at 4 and 6 months.

Results: Non-prone sleeping decreased from 75% to 67% and 63% at 2, 4 and 6 months respectively. There was a significant relationship between prone positioning and the use of a home apnea monitor at 2 months (P = 0.038, odds ratio 1.37, 95% confidence interval 0.94–2.15). Other risk factors for prone sleeping were the level of religious practice, with ultra-Orthodox Jews having the highest prevalence (2 months: OR[1] 2.78, 95% CI[2] 1.75–4.55) and higher parity – especially in families with more than five children (P = 0.041).

Conclusions: The prone sleeping position is relatively high in Israel. Groups at high risk were closely associated with the level of religiousness and parity. Efforts to promote supine sleeping should be directed towards identifiable groups.

[1] OR = odds ratio

[2] CI = confidence interval

July 2004
J. Tarabeia, Y. Amitai, M. Green, G.J. Halpern, S. Blau, A. Ifrah, N. Rotem and L. Jaber

Background: The infant mortality rate is a health status indicator.

Objectives: To analyze the differences in infant mortality rates between Jews and Arabs in Israel between 1975 and 2000.

Methods: Data were used from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Mother, Child and Adolescent Health in the Ministry of Health.

Results: The IMR[1] in 2000 was 8.6 per 1,000 live births in the Israeli Arab population as compared to 4.0 in the Jewish population. Between 1970 and 2000 the IMR decreased by 78% among Moslems, 82% among Druze, and 88% among Christians, as compared to 79% in the Jewish population. In 2000, in the Arab population, 40% of all infant deaths were caused by congenital malformations and 29% by prematurity, compared to 23% and 53%, respectively, in the Jewish population. Between 1970 and 2000 the rate of congenital malformations declined in both the Arab and Jewish populations. In the 1970s the rate was 1.4 times higher in the Arab community than in the Jewish community, and in 2000 it was 3.7 times higher.

Conclusion: As in the Jewish population, the IMR in the Arab community has decreased over the years, although it is still much higher than that in the Jewish community. Much remains to be done to reduce the incidence of congenital malformations among Arabs, since this is the main cause of the high IMR in this population.

[1] IMR = infant mortality rate

June 2003
J. Zlotogora, A. Leventhal and Y. Amitai

Background: Infant mortality in Israel is twofold higher among non-Jews than Jews.

Objectives: To determine the impact of congenital malformations and Mendelian diseases on infant mortality.

Methods: We compared the causes of infant mortality in a 4 year period among Jewish and non-Jewish Israeli citizens. Classification was done by analyzing all the death reports according to whether or not the child had any known major malformation, Mendelian disease and/or a syndrome, irrespective of the immediate cause of death.

Results: The infant mortality among non-Jews was double that among Jews (9 versus 4.4 per 1,000 live births). The rate of children with malformations/genetic syndromes was 3.1 times higher among non-Jews than among Jews (2.94 vs. 1.25 per 1,000 live births). The most significant difference was in the rate of Mendelian diseases, which were 8.3 times more frequent in non-Jewish children (0.16 vs. 1.33 per 1,000 live births respectively). A Mendelian disease was diagnosed in almost 15% of the non-Jewish infants and in less than 5% of the Jewish infants.

Conclusions: The most striking difference between the Jewish and non-Jewish infants was the incidence of congenital malformations and Mendelian diseases parallel to the differences in the consanguinity rates between the two populations.

December 2002
JoeÈ l Zlotogora MD PhD, Yona Amitai MD, Dorit Nitzan Kaluski MD MPH RD and Alex Leventhal MD MPH MPA

Background: Open neural tube defects are among the most common malformations of the fetus. Secondary prevention by early diagnosis during pregnancy and abortion of affected fetuses result in a marked reduction of NTD incidence at birth. The dramatic effect of folic acid for primary prevention of these defects led to recommendations for folic acid supplementation in women of reproductive age.

Objective: To describe the epidemiologic features of NTD in Israel in 1999±2000.

Methods: A national registry of NTD was begun in 1999. During the years 1999±2000, a non-syndromic NTD was diagnosed in at least 394 pregnancies (166 anencephaly, 166 spina bifida, 43 encephalo-cele, and 19 with other types of NTD). The religious-ethnic affiliation was known in 392 cases (209 Jews and 183 non-Jews).

Results: Despite a marked decline in the rate of NTD at birth in the last few decades, the total rates during pregnancy did not change significantly, demonstrating that the changes were secondary to termination of affected pregnancies. At birth, NTD were almost four times more frequent among non-Jews (3.6 per 10,000 live births for anencephaly and 5.9 for spina bifida) than among Jews (anencephaly 1/10,000 live births, spina bifida 1.4/10,000 live births). The complete data of the registry showed an approximately twofold difference in the overall rates during pregnancy between Jews (anencephaly 5.3, spina bifida 4.6, total 11/10,000 live births) and non-Jews (anencephaly 8.8, spina bifida 10.3, total 22.3/10,000 live births). The registry demon-strated that the significant differences in NTD incidence observed at birth between Jews and non-Jews are secondary to a combined effect of a higher frequency of the malformations among non-Jews and a lower proportion of termination of affected pregnancies among non-Jews.

Conclusions: The data presented here will serve as a basis for evaluating the impact of the Ministry of Health recommendations for folic acid supplementation on the incidence of NTD.

February 2000
Yona Amitai MD, Yedidia Bentur MD, Matityahu Lifshitz MD, Pinhas Fainmesser MD, David Applebaum MD, Yehezkel Waisman MD, Nadine Cohen and Samuel D. Oman PhD

Background: Extensive cleaning of homes in Israel before Passover may result in increased exposure of children to cleaning substances.

Objectives: To evaluate the potential danger of Passover cleaning to children, and to study the risk factors in order to identify areas for prevention.

Methods: All cases of poison exposure in Jewish and Arab children under the age of 15 years reported to the Israel Poison Information Center during 1990–95 (n= 5,583) were analyzed for the 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after Passover. Poison exposures in Jewish children <15 years old were studied in seven pediatric emergency rooms for the 2 weeks before and 6 weeks after Passover (n=123).

Results: The IPIC data showed a highly significant 38% increase in the average weekly poison exposure rate for the 2 weeks before Passover compared with the remaining 10 weeks.  Data recorded by the pediatric emergency rooms showed a twofold increase in cleaning substance poisoning during the 2 weeks before Passover compared with the following 6 weeks. The rise in exposures to cleaning substances was observed among children from secular, religious and ultra-orthodox families. In these exposures, the substance was found in open containers in 70% of cases. 

Conclusions: The extensive cleaning of homes among Jewish families in preparation for Passover poses the danger to young children of cleaning substance poisoning. Increasing public awareness, closer observation of children, and keeping these substances in closed containers should increase children’s safety during this annual cleaning.    



IPIC = Israel Poison Information Center

December 1999
Yona Amitai MD, Daniel Katz MD, Matityahu Lifshitz MD, Rosa Gofin MD, Maya Tepferberg MSc and Shlomo Almog PhD, published in IMAJ.

Background: Prenatal lead exposure (umbilical cord blood lead concentration 10 (μg/dl) may impair cognitive development. Childhood lead poisoning is infrequent in Israel, and there are no data on lead exposure in immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union.

Objectives: To evaluate prenatal blood lead concentrations in Israeli newborns whose mothers were born in Israel and in those whose mothers recently immigrated from Russia, and to compare data of prenatal lead exposure in Israel with those reported from other countries.

Methods: We compared the UCBLC of 35 newborns of new immigrants from Russia with a group of 35 newborns whose mothers were born in Israel. Venous BLC was also measured in 50 mothers. Data are compared with similar reports on prenatal lead exposure internationally.

Results: The UCBLC in all 70 newborns (mean±SD) was 3.53±1.6 μg/dl, and mothers' BLC (mean±SD) was 3.90±1.39 μg/dl. UCBLC and BLC in the 50 mother-newborn pairs correlated (γ=0.36, P<0.01). All newborns except one had UCBLC<8.0 μg/dl. There was no significant difference between UCBLC in the two groups.

Conclusions: Prenatal lead exposure among the study subjects in both groups was low. In this sample the newborns of mothers born in Israel and those whose mothers recently immigrated from Russia were not found to be at risk for lead poisoning. Prenatal lead exposure in this sample was low compared to that reported from various parts of the world.

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