July is National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month (NCCAPM) in the United States.  Ameriface and Cleft Advocate established the campaign to promote public awareness and prevention of cleft and craniofacial conditions.

When a parent of a newborn with cleft lip, cleft palate, or another craniofacial condition has questions about what lays ahead, AmeriFace http://www.ameriface.org has answers. The organization is dedicated to educating and supporting those affected by facial differences. It also seeks to educate the public about the conditions by creating awareness programs such as NCCAPM. Facial differences include those present at birth as mentioned above, or acquired via illness, disease or trauma. Stroke, cancer, accidents, animal bites and burns are some causes of acquired facial differences.

Reviewers of AmeriFace, a non-profit organization, describe their association with the online support group as life- changing. The process of healing craniofacial deformities is long and complex. Emotions run rampant and questions abound as parents seek information about what the future holds. Ameriface provides a place where they can connect and communicate with others who have traveled a similar path and those that are also beginning the journey.

Before and after pictures, detailed explanations in non-medical terms, shared experiences from featured families, pre-op and post-op advice, guidance about choosing a medical team, tips on navigating the health insurance maze, a shoulder to cry on or a place to share successes are reasons parents turn to and AmeriFace.

Cleft Advocate www.cleftadvocate.org is another wellspring of information and inspiration for families affected by cleft lip, cleft palate and/or other craniofacial anomalies. The site’s Family-to-Family Connection is an interactive resource for guidance about feeding, surgery, speech therapy, social issues or medical insurance. The site also provides a state-by-state guide to finding information about early intervention services, medical financing options and more.

Our society tends to place a high degree of significance on appearance and image. Cleft Advocate’s comprehensive website also provides encouragement and social interaction tips for patients. Cleft Advocate has a mission to help them reach their highest level of self-esteem. It seeks to promote understanding about and respect from the public about challenges faced by those with facial differences.

NCCAPM is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a National Health Observance, the special days, weeks, or months dedicated to raising awareness about important health topics. www.healthfinder.gov/NHO. Not just in July, but also throughout the year, NCCAPM and its partner organizations offer support and education to patients and families, and promote public awareness. The NCCAPM website includes information about local, regional and national events and access to the various programs offered by participating organizations.

Kayvon Haghighi, DDS, MD, FACS Kayvon Haghighi, DDS, MD, FACS is licensed to practice both medicine and dentistry in the state of New Jersey. Dr. Haghighi’s unique combination of surgical training and experience in facial reconstruction enables him to analyze your condition from multiple points of view.