Are Orofacial Clefts Preventable?
Available research on the association between orofacial clefts and folic acid highly suggests that a certain proportion of these serious anomalies can be prevented by periconceptional supplementation of folic acid and multivitamins. (”Periconceptional” describes the 2 months before and 3 months after conception.) It is assumed that the preventive approach will be especially successful in those cases in which environmental factors represent substantial causes for the defect.
- 65% decrease of cleft recurrence was found in the supplemented group.
- The most successful decrease (by 82%) was found in the subset of unilateral clefts
- 27-50% reduction of cleft occurrence was found in mothers who use multivitamins with 0.4 mg or more folic acid periconceptionally.
- Highest reduction was observed in the subgroup of isolated CL/P
A Lifetime of Cost
The lifetime cost of medical treatment for each child born with an orofacial cleft is about $100,000.
In the USA alone, where over 20 babies are born with orofacial clefts each day (7,500 each year), the lifetime medical cost for children born every year represents over $750 million.