Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are one step closer to understanding how and when cleft lip and palates form during pregnancy.

The discovery, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could mitigate the risk of the birth defect that affects about 1 in every 1,700 babies born in the United States.

The findings point to the disruption of a key protein involved in DNA methylation, which is required in the development of the mouth and face. DNA methylation can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing its sequence.

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