All about cleft lip and cleft palate

Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when the baby's lip or mouth is not formed properly During pregnancy. They are often referred to collectively as "orofacial clefts".

Children with these anomalies often have difficulty feeding and speaking clearly. In addition, they are also more likely to suffer ear infections, as well as having hearing and dental problems.

The cleft lip is also known as cleft lip and It is usually more common in boys than girls. In addition, it is important to know that most babies born with a cleft are healthy and have no other congenital anomalies.

What is the cleft lip?

During embryonic development, the formation of the lips takes place between weeks 4 and 7. Both the child's tissues and a special type of cells grow in the direction of the center of the face in order to form it.

The union of these tissues forms the facial features such as the lips and mouth. The cleft lip occurs when the tissue that forms the lips does not join completely before birth

It is for this reason that there is an opening in the upper lip. It can be of different sizes, even going through the lip and reach the nose.

Further, these deformations can occur in different areas of the lip, that is, on one side, on both or in the central part of it. This last location is usually the least usual.

And the cleft palate?

Babies born with a cleft lip they also have a deformed palate. Unlike the previous one, the palate is formed between weeks 6 and 9 of pregnancy. The cleft palate occurs when the tissue that forms this structure does not bind correctly during pregnancy.

This deformation can be more or less pronounced. In some babies, both the front and the back of the palate are affected. On the contrary, in others, only part of the palate remains open.

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The exact cause of the cleft lip and palate is not exactly known. The lip and / or the sunken palate are produced by multiple genes inherited from both parents. Thus, a combination of genes and environmental factors cause the disorder; the inheritance is called "multifactorial".

Since genes are involved, the chances of a sunken lip or cleft palate returning to a family are high. However, the probabilities will depend on the number of family members that have this deformation.

If one of the parents has a split, but none of his children presents it, the chances of having a baby with a cleft lip are 5%. But if one parent and one child presents it, the chances of another child being born with it are even greater.

Read also: Most common genetic diseases

Therapeutic approach of cleft lip and cleft palate

To try to correct the sunken lip, Many professionals are needed; the knowledge of many different areas is needed to help with the problems that may arise.

Some equipment involved in the treatment are:

  • Plastic / craniofacial surgeon: they are surgeons with a specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of skeletal anomalies of the skull, facial bones and soft tissues. They work in close collaboration with orthodontists and other specialists to coordinate a surgical plan.
  • Pediatrician: It will help coordinate the multiple specialists involved and will control the child during its growth.
  • Orthodontist: coordinates a treatment plan with the surgeon and other specialists.
  • Speech and language therapist: perform a comprehensive assessment of the child's speech to assess their communication skills and monitor it closely during all stages of development.
  • Otolaryngologist: He is a throat, nose and ear specialist. Assist in the evaluation and control of ear infections and hearing loss that can be side effects of your child's anomaly.


The treatment of these anomalies includes surgery and a comprehensive team approach to help with multiple complications that can be presented. After the surgery, the doctor can prescribe some drugs that help to overcome the problem.

It may also be necessary to put padded protectors on the elbow. to prevent rubbing in the area of ​​stitches and surgery.

During surgery and for a short period of time afterwards, the child will have an intravenous catheter to provide fluids until you can drink normally orally.