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Release: March 21, 2000

UI Health Care specialist to lead online chat on cleft palates

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Michael P. Karnell, M.D., University of Iowa associate professor and speech-language pathologist in the UI Department of Otolaryngology, will lead an hour-long, online question-and-answer discussion on cleft palate with a nationwide audience on from 7 to 8 p.m. (CST) Wednesday, March 22.

The online chat will be hosted by and can be accessed by entering through the home page under "Upcoming Events."

Cleft palate, together with cleft lip, comprises the fourth most frequent birth defect in the United States, affecting one out of every 700 newborns. Over 5,000 babies are born each year with these congenital conditions. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not fuse, or join together, as the unborn baby was developing. The majority of clefts appear to be due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. A child born with a cleft frequently requires several different types of services -- such as surgery, dental/orthodontic care, and speech therapy -- all of which need to be provided in a coordinated manner over a period of years.

Karnell, who is also a faculty member in the UI Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, received his medical degree from the UI in 1983 and subsequently held the position of associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago, where he served on the cleft palate craniofacial team and directed the Center for Speech & Swallowing Disorders. He joined the UI faculty in 1993.

Karnell is an active member of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. He currently is contributing to the development of a multicenter Craniofacial Outcomes Registry funded by the National Institutes of Health. His clinical expertise is in voice disorders, head and neck cancer, and cleft palate.

A calendar of other upcoming chats by UI Health Care professionals and dialogue from past chats can be accessed by logging on to and clicking on the logo at the bottom of the page.

UI Health Care’s partnership with is part of an increasing trend in health care toward enhancing consumer services through the Internet. According to recent statistics compiled by Cyber Dialogue, a New York firm that tracks Internet commerce, there are approximately 22 million World Wide Web users seeking health information over the Internet. Cyber Dialogue projects that number to increase to 33 million over the next year.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.