, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 236-244
Date: 30 Sep 2012

Abnormal Cerebellar Structure Is Dependent on Phenotype of Isolated Cleft of the Lip and/or Palate

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Isolated cleft lip and/or palate (ICLP) is one of the most common congenital birth defects in the USA, affecting roughly 1 in 600 births annually. Along with the facial deformity, this population has been found to have abnormal neurodevelopment and gross structural abnormalities in the brain, particularly within the cerebellum. The current study examined cerebellar structure within the two primary subtypes of ICLP: cleft lip with/without cleft palate (CL/P) and cleft palate alone (CPO). A large sample of 107 subjects aged 7 to 27 years with ICLP was compared to 127 healthy controls. Samples were separated by sex. Brain structure was obtained via magnetic resonance imaging. For males, after controlling for intracranial volume, cerebellum volume was significantly lower in the ICLP group (F = 12.351, p = 0.001). Regionally in the cerebellum, males with ICLP had proportionally larger anterior lobes (F = 4.022, p = 0.047) and smaller superior posterior lobes (F = 5.686, p = 0.019). CL/P males showed only a reduction in overall cerebellum volume, with no regional changes. CPO males showed only regional changes, with no reduction in overall volume. Females with ICLP showed no overall or regional cerebellar abnormalities. However, females with CPO did have significantly lower cerebellum volumes than controls. The results reveal both global and regional cerebellar abnormalities within subjects with ICLP. They also establish the existence of abnormal cerebellar morphologies that are dependent on cleft subtype as well as sex. This lends further support to the claim that CL/P and CPO are distinct conditions.