What Is Cleft Lip & Palate?

Posted on 2013-09-01 06:12:28

Normally the mouth and nose of a baby develop between the first 6 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. For some babies, parts of the lips and roof of the mouth do not grow together that is why at times one may have one condition or even both simultaneously. The word cleft means a gap or split between two things. In this case a cleft lip is a split in the upper lip. The cleft lip is normally an opening in the lip, roof of the mouth or it can also be in the soft tissue in the back of the mouth. It can also be accompanied by an opening in the bones of the upper jaw or gum. A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth. It occurs when the two sides of the palate do not join together and therefore causing an opening in the roof of the mouth. The cleft lip and the cleft palate can occur on one side or even both sides. The defect is believed to occur during the embryonic development of the fetus and can also be caused by maternal conditions such as drugs the mother may have taken during an illness, lack of certain vitamins, exposure to smoke and even malnutrition of the mother. The risk of having children with cleft palate increases with subsequent pregnancies. Cleft palate and cleft lip are also known to run in families and hence have a genetic predisposition. Taking of folic acid and multivitamins pre-conception helps to reduce the risk of having the child with a cleft lip or palate. The cleft lip or palate affects nutrition as the child is normally not able to take in well orally. Such children also develop problems that include those of speech whereby they sound like they speak through the nose and also dental problems for example small teeth or missing teeth.