Incidence of cleft lip and palate in Uganda

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2011 Mar;48(2):156-60. doi: 10.1597/09-076. Epub 2010 Apr 23.


Objective: The purpose of the study was to estimate the need for resources for cleft repairs in Uganda by determining the overall incidence of oral-facial clefts and the ratio of isolated cleft lip to isolated cleft palate to cleft lip and palate.

Design: A 1-year prospective study was implemented in seven hospitals and health centers with maternity units in and around Kampala. All live babies were examined for cleft lip and/or palate at birth. The birth of a baby with a cleft was communicated to the research coordinator by maternity staff, and the babies were assessed within 24 hours of delivery. Maternity data (live births) for each center were collected monthly to determine the denominator.

Results: Over the course of 1 year (February 1, 2008 to January 31, 2009), 26,186 babies were delivered. Nineteen babies had a cleft lip and/or palate, giving an incidence of 0.73 in 1000; 12 of the 19 babies (63.2%) had a cleft lip and palate, six (31.2%) had an isolated cleft lip, and only one (5.3%) had an isolated cleft palate. The ratio of boys to girls was 1.1∶1.

Conclusions: The incidence of clefts in this study was 0.73 in 1000. With an estimated 1100 babies born with a cleft per year, this would result in the need for 1800 cleft repairs for babies in Uganda (695 babies needing two repairs each). These data will be helpful to advocate for and plan the necessary resources to effectively treat this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip / epidemiology*
  • Cleft Palate / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Uganda / epidemiology