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July is Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month

Cleft AwrenessJuly is Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness Month. What does that mean?

Cleft and craniofacial conditions affect thousands of infants, children, teens and adults in the United States each year.  Some are born with congenital anomalies like cleft lip and palate, others with more complex, life-threatening craniofacial conditions.  Some are burned; others are injured in accidents and animal attacks, or diagnosed with various oral/head/neck and skin diseases.

Per the CDC website – Children with certain craniofacial defects can have a greater risk for physical, learning, developmental, or social challenges, or a mix of these. Craniofacial defects have significant effects on families and the health care system:

  • Each year, about 4,400 infants in the United States are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate and about 2,700 infants are born with a cleft palate alone (1).
  • About 4 infants per 10,000 live-births in the metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, area are born with craniosynostosis (2).
  • Recent studies have found that direct medical and health care use and average costs per child were a lot higher for children with orofacial clefts than for children of the same age without these conditions (3–5).

Recently, CDC researchers and NBDPS partners have reported important findings about some risk factors for craniofacial defects:

  • Diabetes ― Women who have diabetes before they get pregnant have been shown to be more at risk of having a baby with anotia or microtia or a cleft lip with or without cleft palate (6).
  • Smoking ― Women who smoke anytime during the month before they get pregnant through the end of the third month of pregnancy have been shown to be more likely to have a baby with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate (7).
  • Maternal thyroid disease ― Women with thyroid disease or who are treated for thyroid disease while they are pregnant have been shown to be at higher risk of having an infant with craniosynostosis (8).
  • Certain medications ― Women who report using clomiphene citrate (a fertility medication) just before or early in pregnancy have been shown to be more likely to have a baby with craniosynostosis (9).

For more information visit: CDC Studies on Cranio Facial Facts and