8 Jun

THE Scottish university is spearheading a Europe-wide research project to find ways of preventing birth defects such as cleft lip.

Orofacial clefts appear when the top lip or roof of the mouth does not form properly and The European Science Foundation has granted the institution’s dental school £400,000 to research the affliction that affects one in every 700 newborns – the UK’s most common birth defect, Scotland alone having one of the highest rates in the world.

The condition can hamper speech, hearing and appearance and can damage people’s wellbeing. Care is required from birth to adulthood, involving plastic surgery, speech and language therapy, counselling and dentistry.

Professor Peter Mossey, principal investigator of the new network, said: “There must be an underlying gene pool effect to make the Scottish population pre-disposed to it but there are also environmental factors. Smoking for example doubles the risk and binge drinking is a contributing factor to birth defects.”

“This work means that for the first time a major effort will be made towards the ultimate scientific and humanitarian objective: primary prevention of orofacial clefts.”.

The new research network will be launched in Strasbourg on Thursday June 9.

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