Utah’s connection to cleft palate

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SALT LAKE CITY — Statistics show that babies in Utah are twice as likely to be born with cleft lip or cleft palate than anywhere else in the United States. Researchers at the University of Utah are still uncertain about why this statistic stands but have goals to identify both the causes of cleft palate and potential therapies.

They say that they have identified how to reverse the cleft palate defect for mice still in the womb, potentially opening the door for similar treatment of unborn human babies in the future. They are able to do this by injecting something into the tail of the mice. Even with all of their work, it is still a mystery to researchers as to why it is so prevalent here in Utah.

Charlie Hardman is one of the many babies born in Utah that was born with a cleft palate. Statistics say that every three minutes, somewhere in the world a baby is born with a cleft lip or palate, making it one of the most common birth defects. 

“The best advice that we know of now is to be aware of looking for cleft conditions while the baby is in the uterus,” said Jeremie Oliver, a graduate research assistant at the University of Utah.

Charlie’s parents, Chase Hardman and Jazzy Hardman, were shocked to hear that one in 700 children are born with cleft palates.

“This guy has a big journey ahead, and I think we are surprised at how normal he is. We feed him like a normal baby, he can take a binky, and he has poopy diapers, and sleeps, and we just have these extra little things we go through with him that help him smile and eat normal and not worry about stuff coming out of his nose. It’s these big surgeries that help him with the little things in life,” said Jazzy Hardman.

Chase and Jazzy are excited to be on this journey with their baby Charlie. They say that the children are the strong ones, and they are grateful for their doctors and modern medicine.  

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