Medical Definition of Palate, cleft

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Palate, cleft: An opening in the roof of the mouth due to a failure of the palatal shelves to come fully together from either side of the mouth and fuse during the first months of development as an embryo. The opening in the palate permits communication between the nasal passages and the mouth. Surgery is needed to close the palate. Cleft palate can occur alone or in association with cleft lip.

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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