Monday, June 20, 2011

What Is a Tessier Cleft?

I was born with a Tessier Cleft. It is also/otherwise known as a Craniofacial Cleft.
Craniofacial indicative of both the skull *cranium* and face, facial.

Let's break this down even further.

What is a cleft?

"A cleft is a gap in the soft tissue, bone, or both." *Patricia Bacon Smith, Mother to a child with Cleft and author of Tessier Cleft Info (Page 1)*

So, a Tessier Cleft is a cleft "that involves the mouth, cheeks, eyes, ears and forehead and continues into the hairline." *Patricia Bacon Smith, Mother to a child with Cleft and author of Tessier Cleft Info (Page 1)*

Now, in lay terms, I always describe mine as an open-faced baked potato without the 'good stuff', such as bacon, chives, cheese and sour cream. *See my About Me Page:*

When you hear cleft you may think of a cleft lip or palate. These clefts are very common. In fact, stats from the CDC show that 1 in every 600 births in the USA results in a baby with cleft lip or palate. This number increases when discussing families of Hispanic, Asian and Native American origins.

These clefts are also known as orofacial clefts *Relating to the mouth and face*, and are the most common birth anomalies in the United States.

Funny then, that we don't hear more about them, or see public service announcements. . .
Before we go any further down this path of discussion, it is only fair that I say this.

There is NOTHING a woman can do to prevent a cleft. Let me repeat this, there is NOTHING a woman can do to prevent her child from having a cleft.

Whether it's a cleft lip or palate, or a severe cleft like mine, which is very rare *between 10-20 people in the world have it*. These stats are based on stats I received from my doctor. Oddly enough though, he didn't tell me I had a Tessier Cleft even. He simply said it was a "Craniofacial Cleft". It took me going to Cleft Advocate and reading about a couple other families stories to find out for myself.

I feel it's very important to establish this fact, simply because so many women have either felt guilty beyond words and/or been asked by other people if they took drugs, drank or smoked. Being born with a Cleft of any kind is like anything else. Some mothers never drank, smoked or did drugs a day in their lives/during their pregnancies and had a baby with a cleft. Other mothers smoked, drank and did drugs and their babies came out healthy.

In my next post I'll get into the nitty gritty emotions, something I'm much more famous for as opposed to research. I can, will and do do research, but it is by no means my forte.

Please stay tuned!


Tessier Cleft Info:
Cleft Advocate A Program of Ameriface
Definition of Orofacial from the Free Online Medical Dictionary:

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