Cleft lip and cleft palate

Kierra Bustamante

A cleft lip or cleft palate is a condition in which parts of the lip and/or palate (the roof of the mouth) do not develop properly early in a pregnancy.

Children born with these conditions have a good quality of life and a normal life expectancy.


  • Doctors don't usually know how cleft lip or cleft palate develops. possible causes could be:
    • Changes in your baby’s genes. They provide the basic plan for how your baby develops these genes are passed down from your parents.
    • Not getting enough folic acid before pregnancy. Folic acid is a vitamin that can help protect your baby from birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects.
    • Medicines, like anti-seizure medicine, during pregnancy
    • Smoking during pregnancy.
    • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
    • Infections during pregnancy


    A baby who has cleft lip may experience difficulties and symptoms can include:

    • Trouble speaking
    • Feeding
    • Ear Fluid Buildup
    • Hearing Loss
    • Dental problems from having little teeth to missing or extra teeth.


    • A cleft lip is usually surgically repaired in the hospital using general anesthesia when a child is 3 to 6 months old. At 9-12 months of age, a cleft palate usually can be repaired. The goal of surgery is to create a palate that works well for speech.
    • Dental and Orthodontic Treatment
    • Speech Therapy
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    About one in 1,000 babies are born with cleft lip/palate.
      • About 50 percent of all clefts
      • More common in Asians and certain groups of American Indians
      • Occurs less frequently in African Americans
      • Up to 13 percent of cases present with other birth defects
      • Occurs more often in male children