Background: Orofacial clefts are the most common craniofacial congenital malformations, with significant anatomic, ethnical, racial and gender differences.
Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, distribution and characteristic features of various types of non-syndromic clefts among Israeli Jews and Arabs.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective multi-center survey in 13 major hospitals in Israel for the period 1993–2005. To obtain the true prevalence and detailed clinical characteristics, data on liveborn infants with non-syndromic clefts were obtained from the Ministry of Health's National Birth Defect Registry and completed by chart reviews in the 13 surveyed hospitals.
Results: Of 976,578 liveborn infants, 684 presented unilateral or bilateral clefts, with a prevalence of 7.00/10,000 live births; 479 were Jews and 205 were Arabs. The prevalence was higher among Arabs compared to Jews (11.12 and 6.22 per 10,000 live births in Arabs and Jews, respectively, P < 0.00001). Males had higher cleft rates than females (7.69/10,000 and 6.17/10,000 live births, respectively, P = 0.05). Males had more cleft lips with or without cleft palate, while females had more isolated cleft palates
(P < 0.001). There was left-side predominance. Newborns of younger mothers (age < 20 years) and of older mothers (age ≥ 45 years) had higher cleft rates than those with mothers in the 20–44 year bracket (P < 0.009). Children born at or above the 5th birth order had a higher cleft rate (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The prevalence of non-syndromic clefts was 7.00/10,000 live births. The markedly higher rate in Arabs is related to the high rate of consanguinity. Both very young and old maternal age represents a higher risk of clefts in their offspring.