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Announcement: National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, an annual observance to promote awareness, education, and prevention of cleft and craniofacial defects and conditions affecting the head and face. Common craniofacial defects include orofacial clefts, craniosynostosis, and microtia/anotia. Each year, approximately 7,000 U.S. infants are born with an orofacial cleft (1), which includes cleft palate and cleft lip with or without cleft palate. Because of their prevalence and substantial costs to families and the health-care system (2--4), craniofacial defects significantly affect public health.

Most U.S. states have birth defects surveillance programs that collect data on infants and children affected by selected craniofacial defects. That information is used to identify risk factors, assess quality of life and outcomes, and examine access to care and health service use, including the timeliness of services, special education service use, and health-care costs. CDC's National Birth Defects Prevention Study ( has indicated an increased risk for cleft lip with or without cleft palate associated with maternal diabetes (5) and smoking (6) and an increased risk for craniosynostosis associated with maternal thyroid disease or its treatment during pregnancy (7).

Health-care providers should encourage women who are thinking about becoming pregnant to maintain a healthy weight, control diagnosed diabetes, and quit smoking. Information regarding National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month is available at Additional information on craniofacial defects is available at


  1. Parker SE, Mai CT, Canfield MA, et al. Updated national birth prevalence estimates for selected birth defects in the United States, 2004--2006. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2010;88:1008--16.
  2. Weiss J, Kotelchuck M, Grosse S, et al. Hospital use and associated costs of children ages zero-to-two years with craniofacial malformations in Massachusetts. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2009;85:925--34.
  3. Cassell CH, Meyer R, Daniels J. Health care expenditures among Medicaid enrolled children with and without orofacial clefts in North Carolina, 1995--2002. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2008;82:785--94.
  4. Boulet SL, Grosse SD, Honein MA, et al. Children with orofacial clefts: health care use and costs among a privately insured population. Public Health Rep 2009;124:447--53.
  5. Correa A, Gilboa SM, Besser LM, et al. Diabetes mellitus and birth defects. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;199:237.e1--9.
  6. Honein MA, Rasmussen SA, Reefhuis J, et al. Maternal smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, and the risk of oral clefts. Epidemiology 2007;18:226--33.
  7. Rasmussen SA, Yazdy MM, Carmichael SL, et al. Maternal thyroid disease as a risk factor for craniosynostosis. Obstet Gynecol 2007;110:369--77.

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