July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Prevention Month (NCCAPM), when organizations and individuals nationwide come together to raise awareness about cleft and craniofacial conditions including “orofacial birth defects and conditions acquired as a result of trauma, burns, and disease.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that a cleft lip or a cleft palate is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. The CDC estimates that approximately 2,650 U.S. babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.
Diagnosis is normally made during pregnancy via an ultrasound, but sometimes the diagnosis is not made until after the child is born and sometimes even later in life. Surgery is available to repair a cleft lip and surgery for a cleft palate is recommended within the first 18 months of life. Prevention at all costs is vital as research suggests that there are certain risk factors that increase a baby’s chance of developing an orofacial cleft. These include smoking while pregnant, diabetes, and taking certain medications for epilepsy during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Discuss your options with your healthcare provider. To schedule an annual physical at any of our convenient Primary Medical Care Center community clinics, you may visit our website at www.primarymed.com, or call (305)751-1500 for our Miami-Dade clinic, or (954)289-0000 for our Broward clinic.