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On Sunday, April 22nd, the Philadelphia Zoo was one of 55 Zoos worldwide who took part in the Second Annual “22q at the Zoo” Worldwide Awareness Day. The event, organized by the International 22q11.2 Foundation is designed to raise awareness people affected by 22q chromosome deletions and duplications. Founded in 2003, The T22q11.2 Foundation is an international volunteer organization made up of parents and healthcare professionals dedicating their time and resources to connect affect families with healthcare providers and the resources needed to improve their quality of life. (See:

No two people with a 22Q deletion or duplication are affected the same way. 22q chromosome syndromes may cause a number of birth defects such as heart defects, developmental delays and cleft palate birth injuries. Doctors estimate 1 in 700 babies worldwide are born with a Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate Birth Injury.

Doctors believe that 22q deletion syndrome is present in 5-8 % of the children born with a cleft palate birth injury.

This chromosome deficiency is not the absolute cause of cleft palate birth injuries.

Last year, the FDA increased the awareness of cleft lip and cleft palate birth injuries when it announced they were reclassifying Topamax (Topirimate) from a Pregnancy Category C drug to a Pregnancy Category D drug after data showed that women who took Topamax during pregnancy had an increased risk their unborn child having a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. The North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry showed the problem occurred in 1.4% of infants prenatally exposed to the drug.

Smoking, Alcohol use and the use of illicit drugs during pregnancy may also increase the risk of an unborn child developing a cleft palate.

If you would like to get involved or need assistance with a cleft lip or cleft palate birth injuries, please visit:

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