The impact of orofacial clefts on quality of life and healthcare use and costs


George L. Wehby, Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, E204, GH, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. Tel: 319 384 5133, Fax: 319 384 5125, E-mail:


Orofacial clefts are common birth defects that may impose a large burden on the health, quality of life, and socioeconomic well-being of affected individuals and families. They also result in significant healthcare use and costs. Understanding the impact of orofacial clefts on these outcomes is important for identifying unmet needs and developing public policies to reduce the burden of orofacial clefts at the individual, family and societal levels. This paper reviews and summarizes the main findings of recent studies that have evaluated the impact of orofacial clefts on these outcomes, with a focus on quality of life, socioeconomic outcomes, long-term health, and healthcare use and costs. Several studies identify an increased burden of orofacial clefts on these outcomes, but some of the findings are inconsistent. A summary of the primary limitations of the studies in this area is presented, along with recommendations and directions for future research.