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September is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

September is recognized as National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month in order educate society about this common birth defect.

According to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, each year 4,437 children are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate. Over 2,000 children are born with cleft palates.

A cleft lip occurs when there is a split or separation in the upper lip, and a cleft palate occurs when there is a gap in the bone or soft tissue in the roof of the mouth. Both of these defects occur during fetal development and can cause hearing and dental issues, as well as problems with eating and speaking.

The exact cause of these conditions is unknown and is still being researched, but their development has been linked to multiple risk factors including drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, genetics, and the use of certain prescription medications during pregnancy.

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