EQUUS - - Eq Medical Front -

A new study of cleft palate

in horses shows that while it

leads to eu­thana­sia in half of

af­fected horses, the con­di­tion

is, thank­fully, ex­tremely rare.

Cleft palate is a con­geni-

tal de­fect in the roof of the

mouth, lead­ing to a split

down the cen­ter of the struc-

tures. The con­di­tion can

in­volve the hard palate (the

bony front por­tion of the roof

of the mouth), the soft palate

(the softer back por­tion of the

roof of the mouth), or both.

“The causes of cleft pal-

ate in horses are poorly

un­der­stood and be­lieved

to be mul­ti­fac­to­rial,” says

Sarah Shaw, DVM, of Texas

A&M Univer­sity. “Causes

may in­clude ge­netic fac­tors, ex­po­sure to ion­iz­ing ra­di­a­tion or ter­ato­gens0, vi­ta­min

and min­eral de­fi­cien­cies, and

the ad­min­is­tra­tion of some

drugs dur­ing preg­nancy.”

In a ret­ro­spec­tive study,

Shaw’s team found that the

in­ci­dence of cleft palate in

horses was only 0.04 per­cent

among horses ad­mit­ted to the

univer­sity clinic from 1988 to

2011, with a to­tal of 28 cases

iden­ti­fied. Half of those were

foals less than 2 months of

age when the di­ag­no­sis was

made, 21 per­cent were be-

tween 2 months and one year,

and 29 per­cent were older

than one year.

Shaw says di­ag­no­sis may

be de­layed be­cause of the

un­seen na­ture of many cases.

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