Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2022

Cleft palate and cleft lip are congenital abnormalities (birth defects) in which there is incomplete fusion of the developing lip or the hard or soft palate in the roof of the mouth. These defects may occur in combination or separately.

Signs and symptoms of cleft lip include visible deformity of the lip and palate. Other associated signs and symptoms can include

  • crooked, poorly shaped, or missing teeth,
  • misalignment of teeth and jaw,
  • deformities of the upper jaw, and
  • speech problems.

Affected infants may also experience feeding difficulties.

Cause of Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip

The exact cause is unknown, but a genetic predisposition is believed to play a role in their development.

Other cleft lip and cleft palate symptoms and signs

  • Crooked, Poorly Shaped, or Missing Teeth
  • Deformities of the Upper Jaw
  • Misalignment of Teeth and Jaw
  • Speech Problems
  • Visible Deformity of the Lip and Palate


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.