BACKGROUND: There has been a steady increase in the number of patients with cleft lip and palate being treated at our hospital.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to determine the socio-demographic characteristics of patients with cleft lip and palate as seen in a hospital setting.
METHODS: New and consecutive patients with cleft lip and palate attending the maxillofacial clinic during the period between February 2003 and January 2004 were prospectively surveyed. Data including age of child, gender, address, type of cleft, associated birth anomalies, family history of cleft, mother's age at birth of child, mother's occupation, and mother's smoking and drinking habits were collected and analyzed using a SPSS package.
RESULTS: Seventy-four new cases of cleft lip and palate were seen comprising 33 males and 41 females. Their ages ranged from one day old to 21 years with an overall mean age of 10 months. Cleft lip alone (57%) was the most common presentation. Seventy percent of the mothers were less than 30 years of age. Majority (76%) lived in the Ashanti Region, i.e. within less than 80 kilometres from the clinic. No patient had a family history of facial cleft. Ninety-three percent of the mothers were either unemployed or worked in jobs considered as low earning which included dressmaking, hairdressing, peasant farming, and petty trading. None of the mothers smoked or drank alcohol either before o r duringthe pregnancy.
CONCLUSION: Cleft lip and palate was more commonly seen in low income families. The mothers were found to be relatively young. None of the patients and mothers had a family history of cleft. A larger population-based study is warranted to further clarify these findings.
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