Cleft Lip and Palate in Children

What are cleft lip and cleft palate in children?

Cleft lip and palate are openings
or splits in the upper lip or roof of the mouth (palate). A child can be born with a
cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Cleft lip and palate may be the only birth defects, or
they may happen with other defects.

A cleft lip may be as mild as a
notch of the lip. Or it may be as severe as a large opening from the lip to the
nose. 

A cleft palate may leave an opening
that goes into the nasal cavity. Cleft palate is not as noticeable as cleft lip because
it is inside the mouth. The cleft may:

  • Involve one or both sides of the
    palate
  • Go from the front of the mouth or hard
    palate to the throat or soft palate
  • Include the lip

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate in a child?

Cleft lip and cleft palate happen
when a baby develops in the womb. Researchers don’t know the exact cause of cleft lip
and palate. It can be caused by genes passed on from parents, as well as environmental
factors. Environmental factors include taking certain medicines during pregnancy,
smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, infections, and too little vitamin B and
folic acid during pregnancy. Parents who have cleft lip, cleft palate, or both, or who
have other kids with the problem are at an increased risk of having babies with the
defect.

What are the symptoms of cleft lip and cleft palate in a
child?

The symptoms of these problems can
be seen during the first exam by your baby’s healthcare provider. How much the lip or
palate differs from normal can vary. The symptoms can include:

  • Lip does not close fully
  • Roof of the mouth does not close
    fully
  • Neither the lip nor the roof of the
    mouth closes fully

How are cleft lip and cleft palate diagnosed in a child?

A cleft lip and cleft palate can be diagnosed during pregnancy during
a routine ultrasound exam. Or they may be seen during the first exam by your baby’s
healthcare provider.