Isolated Cleft Palate, But Not Cleft Lip, Linked to Increased Health Risks Interview with:
Erik Berg, MD

Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care
University of Bergen
Bergen, Norway What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Parents regularly express concern about long term health outcomes for children born with oral cleft.

In this study we used population-based long-term follow-up data from multiple national registries to focus on the future health outcomes of cleft cases without additional chronic medical conditions or congenital anomalies.
The study cohort consisted of all individuals born in Norway between 1967 and 1992. All patients treated for clefts in Norway during the study period were invited to participate. 2 337 cases with isolated clefts and 1 413 819 unaffected individuals were followed until 2010.

The main outcome variables were conditions diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood, need for social security benefits, and risk of death.

Our analyses show that individuals born with apparently isolated CLO or CLP had morbidity and mortality rates that were very similar to those of unaffected individuals, whereas individuals with isolated CPO had increased morbidity as well as increased mortality What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The study found little evidence that a cleft lip itself was associated with increased mortality or morbidity. These results are relatively good news for parents of children with CLO and CLP. Furthermore; since CLO and CLP are easier to detect, and CPO still is rarely visible on ultrasonography, the findings could also be relevant for future counseling of parents who are concerned about the health of their fetus if a cleft lip is detected on transabdominal ultrasonography during pregnancy.

The present study confirms previous findings stating that individuals born with CPO have higher rates of mortality and morbidity than unaffected individuals. A thorough screening for other underlying conditions in this patient group is highly recommended from a young age, to ensure necessary interventions and treatment as early as possible. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Long-term evaluations based upon multidisciplinary collaboration and well established treatment protocols are needed in the evaluation of oral cleft treatment, as well as in other fields of pediatric healthcare. Such research is both expensive and time-consuming, but is necessary in order to provide the best treatment and the best long-term outcomes for the patients, and to optimize to the use of the available health-resources. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Berg E, Haaland ØA, Feragen KB, et al. Health Status Among Adults Born With an Oral Cleft in Norway. JAMA Pediatr.Published online September 26, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1925.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on September 27, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD