July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, a month designated to shine light on deformation caused by animal attacks, burns, accidents, or birth defects among other things. It was established by AmeriFace and cleftAdvocate and is supported every year by organizations and individuals alike through community outreach programs. This month is also in place to help women better understand how to prevent cleft lips and palate by maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pregnant. Things like smoking while pregnant, having diabetes, having maternal thyroid disease, or taking certain medications can all contribute to having a baby with cleft lip.
Every year around 4,400 babies are born with a cleft lip or without a cleft palate and around 2,700 are born with a cleft palate alone. Despite extensive research the cause of these has not been narrowed down. Surgery is needed in almost every case to correct these deformities. This surgery is generally performed in infancy and the child can go on leading a normal life but in third world countries these deformities often go untreated which can cause problems with eating among other things. Children born with cleft lips or palates are often abandoned shortly after birth or kept away from school and work which has a negative effect on the rest of their lives.
Many different organizations take part in this month fighting to spread awareness of this common birth defect and urge people to do the same. You can contribute to the cause by holding a fundraiser, sharing the cause to others who can do the same, and sharing your story if you or someone you love has suffered from a cleft or craniofacial defect. There are also free information resources available to distribution to help support the cause. Everyone should do their part to help normalize this defect.