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Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Environmental Factors

There have been a number of environmental factors linked to a higher chance of a baby developing a cleft. These include well known risks in pregnancy such as smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, as well as uncontrollable factors like the baby’s position in the womb. Certain medications have also been linked to a higher chance of cleft, such as anti seizure medications.
These environmental factors can interact with genes in different ways, causing them to switch on or off as a baby develops in the womb.
It is important to note that these are just factors and that the causes of cleft are usually much more complicated than what someone did or didn’t do while pregnant. Even the healthiest, well planned pregnancies can result in a cleft, and this is no one’s fault.

Genetic Factors

While some conditions can point to a single genetic factor as a cause, there have been a number of different genes identified as increasing the risk of having a child with a cleft.
It may also be a matter of certain environmental factors switching genes on or off as a baby is developing in the womb. This is called epigenetics.