Cleft palate; Craniofacial defect
Definition of Cleft lip and palate
Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
There are many causes for of cleft lip and palate. Problems with genes passed down from one or both parents, drugs, viruses, or other toxins can all cause such birth defects. Cleft lip and palate may occur along with other syndromes or birth defects.
A child may have one or more of these conditions at birth.
Signs and tests
A physical examination of the mouth, nose, and palate confirms a cleft lip or cleft palate. Medical tests may be done to rule out other possible health conditions.
Surgery to close the cleft lip is often done at when the child is between 6 weeks and 9 months old. Surgery may be needed later in life the problem severely affects the nose area. See:
Although treatment may continue for several years and require several surgeries, most children with a cleft lip and palate can achieve normal appearance, speech, and eating. However, some people may have continued speech problems.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/12/2009