During the study period from January 1985 to December 1994, there were 1105 new cleft cases seen in the Department of Plastic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital. These included newborn as well as unoperated children and adult cases. During the same period, the total number of recorded births in Singapore was 474,542. Out of the 1105 new cleft cases seen, 984 were Singaporeans. The incidence of this hospital-based study of cleft population in Singapore was 2.07 per 1000 livebirths. Chinese had the highest incidence of 1.64 per 1000 as compared to Malay, Indian and other races. The most common type of cleft deformity was complete cleft lip and palate. The left side was found to be more affected than the right side in all types of cleft deformity. There was no significant difference in sex distribution; the male to female ratio was 1.1:1. However, females had a higher incidence of cleft palate than males. Associated congenital deformities occurred in 1.5% of the total cleft population.
With the control of most infectious diseases and malnutrition, congenital malformations are now one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality among infants in Singapore. Children born with cleft deformities require specialised multidisciplinary care from infancy till adulthood.
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