This project compares the genetic samples held in the Cleft Collective Gene Bank with the DNA of mothers and their children recruited to the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to pinpoint whether there are specific genes responsible for cleft lip and palate. The study will shine light on how environmental factors, such as smoking, alcohol intake and diet, can alter gene expression and, in so doing, increase the risk of a child being born with a cleft. This will help inform preventative measures in the future.
A cleft of the lip and/or palate occurs in approximately 1 in 700 births, with around 1,000 new cleft births in the UK each year. A cleft can significantly impact feeding, the development of speech, appearance, hearing and other aspects of a child’s development, yet the reasons why babies are born with a cleft remains unknown.