There are known genetic markers (candidate genes) for cleft, but they vary from population to population.  The environment plays a major factor in triggering the genetic predisposition of cleft, especially living conditions and mothers nutrition.  Most of the patients we have seen here suffer from anemia due to poor nutrition. Rotaplast is the only NGO doing cleft surgery that has a genetic research component, and has done so for the past 18 years. This research has helped to understand causes of cleft  in many of the areas where Rotaplast does missions, and has helped to establish cleft prevention programs in some.

While much more complicated than we describe here, the research essentially consists of taking blood samples from both our cleft patients and their parents.  For a control group, the team takes blood samples from the general population, and then attempts to isolate and identify markers unique to this area. The team also conducts interviews with the patients mothers, determining their nutrition, living conditions, and genetic and medical history.  With this information in hand, the data is analyzed, and genetic and environmental factors determined.  With the results, the local NGOs are better equipped to educate the local population and medical community to work toward cleft prevention.

SchoolUpdatedThe Genetics and Orthodontic team traveled to a school in a local village and held educational seminars about nutrition,  pre-natal care, oral hygiene, and women’s issues.  Local women from the community also joined in.  When you educate a woman, you educate the village.

DrT and SDr. Tolarova (Head of Genetics Team)  and Team member Shreekala Kandapalanival, DDS (Director, Anamaya (Indo Pacific Cleft Prevention Program)).  After our mission, Drs. Tolar and Tolarova will be traveling to Chennai, India (if the airport is open!  – It’s closed now due to flooding in south India).  They will be the Keynote Speakers at the International Symposium on Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Awareness.  The theme of the symposium is: Let Us Join Our Hands For Cleft Free India.