Prevalence Of Cleft Lip And Palate Remains Stable In New York

Alyssa KirkmanJournal

Chapel Hill, NC (October 5, 2018) The development of orofacial clefting (OFCs) in newborns, including cleft lip and palate, has been shown to be affected by maternal smoking and nutrition. But widespread measures to address these public health issues had little effect in reducing the incidence of the common birth defects, according to research published in the September 2018 issue of The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal (CPCJ).

The study, titled “Patterns of Orofacial Clefting in New York from 1983-2010; Trends by Racial Background, Birthplace, and Public Health Strategies,” examined data on more than 3,500 children born in the city with clefts, including 1,562 incidences of cleft palate and 1,995 of cleft lip and palate.

The research covered a period before and after the adoption of folic acid supplementation for expectant mothers during the first trimester (1992), a federal mandate regarding fortification of grains (1998) and a public smoking ban in the city (2002). Researchers at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center hypothesized that these public health measures would reduce the incidence of OFCs among births in New York City, based on findings from numerous previous studies. Instead, they found overall rates remained stable for nearly three decades, with the lone exception a 44 percent drop in the incidence of cleft lip only.

“Causality of cleft lip and palate is complex and multi factorial” says Jack C. Yu, DMD, MD, MS ED, Editor of CPCJ. “This detailed epidemiological investigation shows that despite notable environmental event such as 911 and public health measures, the frequency of this congenital condition did not increase with the former nor decrease with the latter.”

The study also addressed other factors regarding the incidence of OFCs and validated earlier studies that showed higher rates of clefts among births by white mothers compared to African American mothers.

“There is a public health need to identify orofacial cleft risk factors, given the significant societal and individual costs resulting from this diagnosis,” said researchers Sydney Butts, Simone Reynolds, Lyuba Gitman, Prayag Patel, and Michael Joseph. “This knowledge could impact prevention strategies and suggest ways to enhance health-care support resources for patients.”

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The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal is the official publication of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA). Established in 1943, ACPA is a non-profit medical association of interdisciplinary healthcare professionals dedicated to treating and/or performing research on oral cleft and craniofacial conditions. ACPA’s mission is to optimize interdisciplinary care and outcomes for individuals with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions through education, research, advocacy, and improved team care. More information about ACPA can be found at or by calling 919-933-9044.