The descriptive epidemiology of orofacial clefts (OFC) is an essential prerequisite towards improved care, investigations into the etiology, and eventually prevention. In the present study the distribution of OFC in sub-Saharan Africa using post-surgical data from the Smile Train organization, was examined. Data from 46,502 individuals from Ethiopia (16,049), Nigeria (8,209), Uganda (5,138), Kenya (4,084), Tanzania (2,750), Congo DR (1,371), Zambia (1,319), Somalia (1,039), and a total of 6,543 individuals from another 26 African countries were available for analysis. Individuals without a cleft diagnosis and those who indicated non-black African as their racial group were excluded, and a total of 46,502 individuals were available for analysis. There was a significant difference in frequency between unilateral cleft lip and palate (70.24%) versus bilateral cleft lip and palate (29.76%; p < 0.0001), and these were also significant within each sex (p < 0.0001). In the database, there were more females (53.50%) with cleft palate only than males (46.50%) (p = 0.0002). Data reported here did not take into account infant mortality during the perinatal period. Nonetheless, this study provides estimates from the largest recorded body of data for clefts in the continent, therefore providing valuable information on the need for comprehensive cleft registries in Africa.
Key words: Clefts, Africa, epidemiology.
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