Consumer News: Groups spotlight cleft lip and cleft palate awareness in July

One out of every 600 newborns is affected by cleft lip and/or cleft palate, among the most common birth defects in the United States, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation.

To promote the public awareness of these conditions, in which the two sides of the lip are separated (cleft lip) or the two sides of one's palate did not fuse during development as a baby (cleft palate), The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and the Cleft Palate Foundation are recognizing July as National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month.

Children born with a cleft often require dental/orthodontic care, surgery and speech therapy, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation. The conditions can also present challenges including difficulties with eating and speech, ear infections and misaligned teeth, according to the American Dental Association's website, MouthHealthy.org.

Depending on the severity of the defect, more than one surgery may be necessary to correct the conditions. MouthHealhty.org recommends that patients talk with their physicians and dentist for a physical examination and more information about possible treatments.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 7,000 babies will be born with a cleft in the U.S. this year.

"This national month of awareness provides an opportunity for dialogue about facial differences and the treatment options currently available," said president of the Cleft Palate Foundation, Marilyn Cohen, in a news release. "We hope that by spreading awareness we can bring understanding and education about treatment and prevention."

The July awareness campaign includes about 20 other organizations, including AmeriFace, the National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction and the International Craniofacial Institute.

For more information about the conditions, the Cleft Palate Foundation offers a number of resources for parents and individuals regarding cleft lip and palate, including support resources, information for teens and adults, answers for parents of a newborn and more, at cleftline.org.

For information from the ADA about oral health and cleft lip and cleft palate, visit MouthHealthy.org.

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