Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

Cleft lip and palate are types of craniofacial birth defects that affect thousands of children worldwide each year.

These conditions are sensitive topics of conversations, often affected by the stigma of physical birth deformities and cultural myths.

Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
  • Eating problem
  • Ear infection and hearing loss
  • Speech problem
  • Dental problem
  • Nose deformity

For development of an orofacial cleft include:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental agents such as secondhand exposure to smoke
  • Medications such as phenytoin, sodium valproate, topiramate, and methotrexate
  • Smoking and using tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Folate deficiency
  • Maternal obesity
  • Diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy is a more significant risk factor than gestational diabetes.

How is it diagnosed?

  • Most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are noticed right away at birth and don't require special tests for diagnosis. Increasingly, cleft lip and cleft palate are seen on ultrasound before the baby is born.
  • Cleft lip may be detected with ultrasound beginning around the 13th week of pregnancy. As the fetus continues developing, it may be easier to accurately diagnose a cleft lip. Cleft palate that occurs alone is more difficult to see using ultrasound
Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate


How is it treated?

  • A cleft lip may require one or two surgeries depending on the extent of the repair needed. The initial surgery is usually performed by the time a baby is 3 months old.
  • Repair of a cleft palate often requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years. The first surgery to repair the palate usually occurs when the baby is between 6 and 12 months old. The initial surgery creates a functional palate, reduces the chances that fluid will develop in the middle ears, and aids in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones.
  • Children with a cleft palate may also need a bone graft when they are about 8 years old to fill in the upper gum line so that it can support permanent teeth and stabilize the upper jaw. About 20% of children with a cleft palate require further surgeries to help improve their speech.
  • Once the permanent teeth grow in, braces are often needed to straighten the teeth.
  • Additional surgeries may be performed to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, close openings between the mouth and nose, help breathing, and stabilize and realign the jaw. Final repairs of the scars left by the initial surgery will probably not be performed until adolescence, when the facial structure is more fully developed


Consult with experienced Doctors

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