According to recent figures cleft and palates affect one in 700 babies in the UK each year. They are claimed to be one of the most prevalent birth defects in the United Kingdom.
These defects occur when something goes wrong while baby is in the womb. However, it is still unknown what mechanisms trigger this genetic failure.
Experts think that it may be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. It is also thought to be a heritable problem.
Unfortunately, at the current stage of science and medicine development there is no chance to predict or prevent the problem.
For the purpose of science the largest databank for cleft and palate has been established in the UK recently. The analysis of numerous cases will help to find the root of the problem in future.
Babies with these conditions were chosen to participate in a five-year programme called the Cleft Collective. The project hopes to analyse babies' DNA and try to see if there is any common genetic flaws take place.
3,000 children will be followed during their childhood in attempt to find an effective way of treatment for this conditions and eventually help future generations to avoid surgery.
This initiative is a good news for all babies with the cleft and cleft palate, like Thomas Pennington, who has bilateral cleft. He is going to have two operations next year in a bid to recover the lip and the palate. The first operation on his cleft lip, there was a big change to Thomas's appearance.
The second operation, which was successful and gave Thomas a top lip changed his appearance once again. The biggest problem has been, according to the Thomas mother, Tamsin, feeding.
Because of the lip cleft the boy is unable to suck. She has got to use special bottles to feed Thomas. A couple more surgeries are needed before he can start to eat solid food.
Tamsin is aware of problems that may occur in primary school as well as in her son's teen age, but she are ready to all the obstacles.
Repairing the cleft is not the end, experts claims. If the normal shape of lips and palate could be reconstructed it is unknown what outcomes it may bring in the future.
There is a great hope in the aforementioned cleft database. It is claimed that the research may help to find out how to deal with problem that may arise in the course of life because of the cleft.
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