Cleft lip and cleft palate


Openings or splits in the upper lip, the palate, or both are known as cleft lip and cleft palate, respectively. When a developing baby’s facial tissues don’t fully seal, it can lead to cleft lip and cleft palate.

The most common birth malformations are cleft lip and cleft palate. Although they occur as solitary birth abnormalities, they are also linked to a variety of inherited genetic diseases or syndromes.

Infants with cleft lips or palates may have trouble eating (both from the breast and a bottle). They frequently have fluid behind their eardrums, which can compromise hearing, and they may also have difficulty speaking. Some people may also experience dental problems, depending on the situation.

While cleft lip and palate can be repaired in the majority of infants, a series of operations is needed for a more normal appearance and to restore normal function with little scarring.


A split (cleft) in the lip or palate is obvious from birth. The symptoms of cleft lip and palate include:

  • A facial split that affects one or both sides of the lip and palate (roof of the mouth).
  • A lip split that is just a tiny notch in the lip or that extends through the upper gum and palate and into the base of the nose.
  • A split in the roof of the mouth that has no impact on facial appearance

Less frequently, a cleft only affects the soft palate muscles (submucous cleft palate), which are in the back of the mouth and protected by the lining of the mouth. This kind of cleft is frequently undetected at birth and may not be identified until later when symptoms manifest. Submucous cleft palate symptoms and signs can include:

  • Feeding problem
  • Ear infection for a long period of time
  • Swallowing problem, with a possibility of food or liquids coming out of the nose
  • Nasal speaking voice

Your doctor may begin coordinating care when they discover that your child has a cleft lip and palate, which is typically discovered at delivery. Make an appointment with your baby’s doctor if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of a submucous cleft palate.


When tissues in the baby’s face and mouth don’t correctly fuse, cleft lip and cleft palate develop. During the second and third months of pregnancy, the tissues that make up the lip and palate often fuse together. However, the fusion either never happens or happens partially in infants with cleft lip and cleft palate, leaving a hole (cleft).

Most cleft lip and cleft palate instances, according to researchers, are brought on by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. A specific cause isn’t found in many infants.

Clefting genes can be passed down from either the mother or the father, either individually or as part of a genetic syndrome that features a cleft lip or cleft palate as one of its symptoms. Sometimes a baby inherits a gene that increases their risk of developing a cleft, but the cleft is really brought on by an environmental factor.

Other elements that may aid in the formation of a cleft include:

  • Folic acid deficiency.
  • Being obese.
  • Drug abuse.
  • Pregnant women who smokes or use tobacco.
  • Having DiGeorge syndrome or Pierre Robin syndrome which are types of birth defects.

Risk factors

Cleft lip and palate development in infants may be influenced by a number of variables, including:

  • Family history. Cleft babies are more likely to be born to parents who have a family history of cleft lip or cleft palate.
  • Substance exposure during pregnancy. Pregnant women who smoke, drink alcohol, or take certain drugs may be at an increased risk of developing cleft lip and palate.
  • Diabetes. According to some data, pregnant women who were previously diagnosed with diabetes may be more likely to give birth to children who have cleft lips or palates.
  • Obesity during pregnancy. There is some evidence to suggest that children born to obese mothers may be more likely to develop cleft lip and palate.

Whether they have a cleft palate or not, males are more likely to develop a cleft lip. Females are more likely to have cleft palate without cleft lip. Cleft lip and palate are said to affect Native Americans the most frequently and African-Americans the least frequently in the United States.