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Eur J Orthod. 2011 Aug;33(4):372-6. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjq117. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Incidence of facial clefts in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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  • 1Department of Orthodontics, King's College London Dental Institute, London, UK.


The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of facial clefting in Cambridge, UK, using multiple resources of ascertainment and to relate the findings to antenatal ultrasound screening (AUS) detection rates. AUS records from an obstetric ultrasound department, post-natal records from the regional craniofacial unit, and autopsy reports of foetuses over 16 weeks' gestational age from a regional pathology department from 1993 to 1997 were retrospectively reviewed. Cross-referencing between the three data sets identified all cases of facial clefts. Of 23,577 live and stillbirths, 30 had facial clefts. AUS detected 17 of these. Sixteen of the 30 had isolated facial clefts. Others had associated anomalies, chromosomal defects, or syndromes. Percentages and confidence intervals were calculated from the above data. Twenty-one resulted in live births, seven terminations, and two foetal deaths. Overall, detection rate by AUS was 65 percent [67 percent isolated cleft lip, 93 per cent cleft lip and palate (CLP), and 22 percent isolated cleft palate], with no false positives. The incidence of facial clefts was 0.127 percent (95 percent confidence interval 0.089-0.182 percent); the incidence for isolated CLP was lower than previously reported: 0.067 percent (0.042-0.110 percent). With one exception, all terminations were in foetuses with multiple anomalies. The figures presented will enable joint CLP clinics to give parents information of termination rates. The study allows pre-pregnancy counselling of families previously affected by clefting about the reliability of AUS detection rates.

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