Unless you know someone born with a cleft palate or lip or with other conditions of the head and face, you may not have a vested interest in raising awareness. However, each year in the United States, approximately 2,600 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,400 babies are born with a cleft lip, with or without a cleft palate.
As a plastic surgeon I see these and other craniofacial birth defects which include craniosynostosis (skull sutures fusing prematurely), anotia/microtia (ear is missing or underdeveloped), and anophthalmia/microphthalmia (missing or abnormally small eye). It is devastating not only to the children who have these conditions, but also to the families.
July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and improve understanding of orofacial clefts (clefts of the lip and palate) and other conditions of the head and face.
While healthy lifestyle is a great preventative, it is also important to understand the need to correct these conditions in children. Children with orofacial clefts and other craniofacial conditions often have impaired ability to feed and impaired language development and might be at increased risk for a greater number of ear infections, hearing issues, and problems with their teeth. The costs associated with treatment are high and improving the health of these children is an important public health goal.
To find out more about National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month and preventative measures, please visit http://www.nccapm.org/about.html