July is National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month!

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month is an event that was established to spread awareness about the cleft and craniofacial conditions that affect millions of people around the world. These defects are formed during the development of a baby’s facial structures before they are born. The World Health Organization reports that cleft lips, cleft palates and other craniofacial birth defects rank as first for worldwide recorded birth defects. In the United States alone, cleft lip or cleft palate occurs in almost one out of every 600 to 1,000 births. Craniofacial conditions are present in nearly one out of every 10,000 births.

Common Craniofacial Conditions

Cleft Lip and Palate

Clefts are openings or gaps that occur in the palate, lip or both. The cleft generally starts at the lip and may extend backward into the soft or hard palate. A cleft lip or palate can be described as unilateral if it affects just one side of the mouth, or bilateral if it is present on both sides of the mouth. A cleft palate can be present without a cleft lip. A majority of babies who are born with a cleft lip will also have either a cleft palate or a gap in the gum line.

Microtia

Microtia causes babies to be born with an underdeveloped or missing outer ear. Children with this condition are also likely to have some form of underdevelopment in the middle ear and the ear canal. The condition typically affects just one ear and tends to occur more frequently in boys. Bilateral microtia is microtia that occurs in both ears, and children with this condition will need assistance to hear properly.

Clefts are openings or gaps that occur in the palate, lip or both. The cleft generally starts at the lip and may extend backward into the soft or hard palate. A cleft lip or palate can be described as unilateral if it affects just one side of the mouth, or bilateral if it is present on both sides of the mouth.

Hemifacial Microsomia

Also referred to as lateral facial dysplasia or brachial arch syndrome, hemifacial microsomia occurs when one side of a baby’s face is underdeveloped, typically affecting the jaw, ear and mouth. It can cause one side of the face to appear smaller than the other and can result in speech and hearing difficulties in children. However, the degree to which the condition will affect children can vary. In extremely severe cases of hemifacial microsomia, a child’s jaw muscles, upper jaw, skull and middle ear can be affected.

About the NCCAPM Website

During the month of July and the rest of the year, you can visit the NCCAPM website to learn more about cleft and craniofacial conditions and how they can affect the people that have them. The site is also an excellent source for information regarding programs and events that are offered by participating organizations on the local, regional and national levels and how you can collaborate with them to raise awareness of these conditions so that they can be prevented.

Trailhead Dental is happy to spread awareness about cleft and craniofacial conditions. You can access the NCCAPM website here to see how you can sign up to get involved, too.