The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of orofacial clefts in live newborns from 1998 to 2002 in Brazilian state capitals and correlate their occurrence with a number of relevant socioeconomic factors collected in the 2000 census. Data was obtained from the Public Health Hospital Information System (SIH-SUS), Information System of Live Hospital Births (SINASC) and Atlases of Human Development in Brazil. The results showed that the mean prevalence of orofacial clefts in Brazil was 0.36 per 1,000 live births. Using Pearson's correlation coefficient, the correlation between cleft rate and social factors was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Our study suggests that there is no correlation between the municipal economic factors and the prevalence of orofacial clefts, which is likely influenced by underrecording problems in the less developed municipalities.