Background. In Estonia children with cleft lip and/or palate are treated in two centres: University of Tartu and North Estonia Medical Centre. On average there is one baby with cleft per 700 full-term newborn.
Aim. To study epidemiological factors causing development of cleft lip and palate and their occurrence regularities.
Material. This study included 583 cleft lip and palate patients (333 male and 250 female), and the information for statistical analyses was gathered in Tartu University Hospital.
Results. In the period 1910-2000 583 cleft patients were born and registered in Tartu University Hospital. Nineteen per cent of the patients had a cleft lip, 39 per cent of the patients had a cleft palate, and 42% of the patients had a cleft lip and palate. In unilateral CLP and CL cases, the left side was affected 2.2 times as frequently as the right side. The boys had a cleft lip and palate nearly 2.1 times more often than the girls. Cleft palate was more common for the girls (60%) then for the boys (40%). Of children 30% had multiple malformations and 5.5% of the cleft patients were born prematurely. The ratio for different cleft types was CL:CLP:CP – 1:2:2. Of the cleft patients 2.6% had an older child with a cleft in the family. Of the mothers with cleft children 37% reported emotional stress during the first trimester, 20% had been doing physically hard work and 15% had used medications during the first trimester.
Conclusions. The main finding of the study was high CP rate (CL:CLP:CP – 1:2:2), which is similar to that found in Finland and Sweden, the reasons for which need further research.