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Indicator Report - Birth Defects: Orofacial Clefts

Why Is This Important?

Orofacial clefts are among the most common birth defects, and can occur alone or in combination with other defects. Orofacial clefts can significantly affect children's health. People with orofacial clefts require medical and surgical services to treat the structural malformations. Even after surgery, they may still be at increased risk of illness and disability, particularly with respect to feeding, hearing, and communication, and often require long term health and rehabilitation services to improve outcomes and reduce complications.

The burden of disease and medical costs associated with orofacial clefts are substantial. Just the direct medical costs to treat a child with cleft lip and palate was estimated to be over $22,000 (in 2002 dollars, N. Waitzman, 2005). For the estimated 100 children born with these conditions every year in Utah, their direct medical costs would therefore be in the order of $2.2 million. This figure, though high, is only partial. For example, it does not include costs for special and developmental services, or indirect costs to the child or young adult and to the family. Nor does the figure address the personal and familial burden on quality of life.

Although orofacial clefts are common in the U.S., they appear to be even more frequent in Utah, which reports among the highest rates of orofacial clefts in the U.S. and internationally.

Tracking orofacial cleft occurrence in Utah is crucial in assessing this common birth defect and in helping to plan for the care of affected children. Cost and quality of life for affected families are other crucial areas of assessment.

Orofacial Clefts Rates by Type, Utah, 1995-2009

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Data Sources

Utah Birth Defect Network.

Other Views


Number of cases of cleft lip or cleft palate per 10,000 births to Utah residents.

How We Calculated the Rates

Numerator: Number of cases of orofacial clefts (defined as cleft lip with or without cleft palate, or as cleft palate alone) in live births and fetal deaths occurring among women residing in Utah.
Denominator: Number of live births and stillbirths among women residing in Utah.

Page Content Updated On 10/26/2011, Published on 10/27/2011
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Fri, 03 July 2015 14:16:25 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:09:20 MST