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The Healing Foundation is funding the world’s largest Cleft lip and palate research program, known as the Cleft Collective, to date in the UK.

Approximately one in 600 children are born with cleft lip or palate in the United States each year, yet little is known about the causes. While there have been advances in modern surgical advances, hundreds of children and their families are affected by the painful and disfiguring surgeries and life-long psychological and social challenges.

The Cleft Collective aims to address three of the most fundamental questions that a parent of a child with a cleft may have:

What caused my child’s cleft?

Will my child be okay?

What are the best treatments for my child?

Some 5,000 children and their families are being invited to the Birth cohort Study, which is being hosted by the University of Bristol. Many of which are being asked to take part in clinical trials and other studies coordinated by other hospitals and programs. The hope is that within a generation, we will know more about what causes a child to be born with a cleft, the impact of cleft on a child’s life as well as the best treatments available.

Medications Linked To Cleft

While not all causes of cleft are known, some medications taken during pregnancy have been linked to the birth defect. In March 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about an increased risk of oral clefts in infants exposed to the drug Topamax or generic rivals, during the first trimester of pregnancy. Topamax is an anti-seizure medication also approved for migraine treatment.

About Cleft lip and palate

Cleft lip and palate are treatable birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth. It happens when the tissue that forms in the roof of the mouth and upper lip don’t completely fuse together before birth.

The defects can range from a small notch in the lip to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth, also affecting the nose, which can lead to speech problems, eating and ear infections. Surgery is often required to fix the problem.

Visit to learn more about Cleft lip and palate.

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