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Throughout his career, Dr. Lammer has led an international effort to determine the environmental causes of birth defects. Some years ago, he conducted clinical studies that helped establish the teratogenicity of vitamin A and related retinoids. He and his colleagues recently established that maternal tobacco use in early pregnancy doubles the risk of congenital orofacial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Moreover, Lammer developed compelling evidence that fetuses with a rare form of protein active in fetal development (TGF-alpha) are up to ten times more sensitive to the consequences of maternal smoking. The focus of Lammer’s current research studies the contribution of fetal genetic susceptibility to the risk for birth defects related to environmental chemical exposure during pregnancy.
Another subject of Lammer’s research is the beneficial effect of the vitamin folic acid in preventing spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate. He is in the midst of a large study to search for and define genetic variation in the beneficial effect of folic acid as a means to identify the molecular mechanism of activity. This knowledge will help in the assessment of folic acid fortification of flours and grain products for lowering the incidence of congenital defects.

Lammer’s laboratory provides families and individuals with testing for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, MCAD deficiency, achondroplasia, and Prader-Willi, Angelman, and fragile X syndromes.


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5700 Martin Luther King Jr Way • Oakland, California 94609
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