Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Introduction
Cleft lip and cleft palate are
facial and oral malformations that occur very early in pregnancy, while
the baby is developing inside its mother. Clefting results when there is
not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is
available does not join together properly.
A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the
upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the
upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose and
includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
A cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. A
cleft palate can involve the hard palate (the bony front portion of the
roof of the mouth), and/or the soft palate (the soft back portion of the
roof of the mouth).
Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the
mouth. Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible
to have a cleft lip without a cleft palate, a cleft palate without a
cleft lip, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate together.
Who Gets Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?
Cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, affects one in 700 babies
annually, and is the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. Clefts
occur more often in children of Asian, Latino, or Native American
descent. Compared with girls, twice as many boys have a cleft lip, both
with and without a cleft palate. However, compared with boys, twice as
many girls have cleft palate without a cleft lip.
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