DefinitionNumber of children born with cleft palate without cleft lip per 10,000 live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
NumeratorNumber of children born with cleft palate without cleft lip among live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
DenominatorCount of all live births to women residing in New Jersey in a specified time interval.
Why Is This Important?Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the more common birth defects. A cleft palate is an opening or split in the roof of the mouth. Cleft palate occurs when the two plates of the skull that form the hard palate (roof of the mouth) do not completely join together during pregnancy.
Researchers believe that most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic factors can cause clefts, either as an isolated defect or as part of a syndrome that includes clefting. In some cases, babies inherit a gene that makes them more likely to develop a cleft, and then an environmental trigger actually causes the cleft to occur.
Environmental factors thought to contribute to clefting include: fetal exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol, certain medications, illicit drugs and certain viruses. Other risk factors for clefting include: family history of clefts; maternal obesity; race (clefts are more common among American Indian and Asian children, and less common among Black children); and gender. Males are more likely to have a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, while females are more likely to have cleft palate without cleft lip.