National coalition calls attention to cleft palate
July is national cleft and craniofacial awareness and prevention month
Raising a call-to-action over a national health concern, more than 20 organisations in the USA have come together to raise awareness of one of the most prevalent birth defects: cleft lip and/or cleft palate.
In the USA, approximately one in every 700 babies is born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Despite unique health challenges, those born with cleft and craniofacial conditions can lead fulfilling, successful and accomplished lives. Clefts are usually repaired surgically in the first year of life, although many children require additional surgeries and treatments through adolescence to correct challenges to breathing, eating or speech development. Individuals born with cleft lip or palate often need specialised dental or orthodontic care throughout their lives as well.
The causes of orofacial clefts are mostly unknown, though some result from changes in the child’s genes before birth. Recent studies have found that women who smoke during pregnancy or are diagnosed with diabetes before pregnancy have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also found that women who use certain medicines to treat epilepsy, such as topiramate or valproic acid, during the first trimester of pregnancy also have an increased risk.
“This condition affects roughly 7000 infants every year in the US, and is even more widespread abroad,” said Marilyn Cohen, president of the Cleft Palate Foundation (CPF). “This national month of awareness provides an opportunity for dialogue about facial differences, the treatment options currently available, and how to prevent more craniofacial conditions.”
For further information visit the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association website at www.acpa-cpf.org.