Alternate Names : Cleft palate, Craniofacial defect
Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
There are many causes for of cleft lip and palate. Problems with genes passed down from one or both parents, drugs, viruses, or other toxins can all cause such birth defects. Cleft lip and palate may occur along with other syndromes or birth defects.
A cleft lip and palate can affect the appearance of one’s face, and may lead to problems with feeding and speech, as well as ear infections. Problems may range from a small notch in the lip to a complete groove that runs into the roof of the mouth and nose. These features may occur separately or together.
Risk factors include a family history of cleft lip or palate and other birth defect. About 1 out of 2,500 people have a cleft palate.
Pictures & Images
Infant hard and soft palates
The roof of the mouth is comprised of the hard palate and the soft palate. These structures separate the nasal cavity from the mouth.
Cleft lip repair – series
A cleft lip is an abnormal opening in the middle of the upper lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth (palate).
Review Date : 5/12/2009
Reviewed By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.