By Sabrina R. Espinoza
Craniofacial defects or anomalies are abnormalities that occur in the bones of the skull or face. In medical term, an anomaly is an irregularity or different from the norm. Craniofacial defects are abnormalities that are present at birth in a number of variations. Some are mild and in many cases are severe abnormalities, which will require surgery in order to improve a child or person’s appearance. Many medical professionals and researchers believe that there is no single factor that causes craniofacial defects. However, there are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of the defects. Some of the common ones are a combination of genes, environmental, and folic acid deficiency. As mentioned before, there are many causes of craniofacial defects, but the most common ones include the cleft lip or cleft palate. Any other defects are very rare and don’t happen very often. To treat craniofacial defects, plastic or reconstructive surgery is usually done to improve the person’s appearance.
Each year, about 4,400 infants in the United States are affected by a craniofacial defect like a cleft lip, an absent cleft palate, or being born with just a cleft palate alone. Craniofacial defects can cause challenges in a child’s physical features, learning habits, developmental habits, and social habits. These defects usually have significant effects on families and the health care system. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to learn more information about craniofacial defects by “monitoring and doing research to guide prevention efforts.” There are also birth defect surveillance programs that monitor craniofacial defects, identify disparities in the occurrence of craniofacial defects, and to better understand the lives of children with craniofacial defects to help improve their quality of life. With defect surveillance programs, the CDC and other researchers, and plastic surgeons, the lives of children born with thee abnormalities could be improved. As of today, research is still ongoing and various information is being discovered about birth defects. Our goal is to help children with craniofacial defects to function normally, feel their best, and live a happy life.