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Scientists say they have discovered a series of genetic mutations that are linked to dental abnormalities such as cleft palate.
A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine analyzed genetic material from over 500 people whose families contain at least two siblings with cleft lip or palate.
They compared these results with those from 100 individuals who were chosen to represent the general population.
"We found a group of more than a dozen gene mutations that appear to be significantly associated with cleft lip and palate," commented lead researcher Alexandre Vieira, who specializes in pediatric dental health.
Cleft palate affects one in every 700 to 1,000 children born in the United States, according to KidsHealth.org. It is a condition more common in those of Asian, Latino or Native American descent.
Vieira said that the team is focused on identifying the particular genes that result in clefts so that doctors can screen for that risk in individual families.
Eventually, he added, there could even be gene therapies developed to target the condition.
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