Cleft lips and palates are one of the most common birth defects. These defects have longstanding emotional and functional consequences. Patients born with these abnormalities typically require multiple surgeries, orthodontics, and years of speech therapy. There are many known risk factors. They include:
- Family history. Families with a history of cleft lip or cleft palate.
- Race. Cleft lips and palates are more common in American Indian and Asian patients. African Americans are least likely to have a cleft.
- Environmental factors. Exposure during early pregnancy to cigarette smoke, alcohol or illicit drugs may put a baby at higher risk of developing a cleft.
- Maternal obesity
This study gives women who are considering having children one more reason to stop smoking. I hope this brings additional awareness regarding the risks of smoking during pregnancy to patients in Charlotte and the Carolinas to help prevent this life changing birth defect.