Cleft Lip and/or Palate

Also known as: Orofacial cleft, cleft palate, cleft lip, clefting

What is Cleft Lip/Palate?

The tissues that make up the lip and palate (roof of the mouth) fuse together between the fourth and twelfth weeks of pregnancy. A cleft lip and/or palate is characterized by the presence of a gap (split) in the lip and/or palate seen at birth when the tissues of the lip and/or palate don't come together at all, or come together only part of the way. As the lip and the palate develop separately, a baby may have one or the other, on one or both sides of the mouth, or both together. Boys tend to have more cleft lips while girls have twice as many cleft palates. Clefting can vary in type and severity.

What causes cleft lip/palate?
In most cases, it appears to be caused by an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Many times no definite cause can be found. The risk increases when there is a family history of a cleft, when a mother smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol or takes certain medications.

What are the symptoms of cleft lip/palate? 
In addition to the physical signs that affect appearance, cleft lips/cleft palates can lead to problems with feeding, speaking, hearing and teeth development.

What are cleft lip/palate care options? 
Clefts are typically treated with surgery very early in life. This usually occurs in the first few months and is recommended before the baby is a year old. At Nicklaus Children's Hospital, a multidisciplinary team of specialists will ensure that the many complex health issues that may arise will be optimally managed. 

Reviewed by: Saoussen Salhi, MD

This page was last updated on: 11/9/2018 1:10:38 PM

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Knowing how to swim saves lives. Swimming and water safety lessons are offered by a trained instructor for babies as young as 6 months to adolescents under 21 years old. Learn more.

Nicklaus Children's Dental Mobile Unit

State-of-the-art mobile health unit offers free oral health screenings, assessments and exams, all supported by telehealth connectivity with care providers at Nicklaus Children’s main campus. The Dental Unit will be visiting different locations on a weekly basis. Learn more.

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Yoga is a great way to get children active in a non- competitive environment. This one-day-a-week class is available for patients currently receiving therapy at one of our Nicklaus Children’s outpatient center locations, their siblings and children residing in our community. Learn more.

From the Newsdesk

Dr. Gereige receives National Oral Health Service Award
Congratulations to Rani Gereige, MD, MPH, FAAP who received the AAP Section on Oral Health National Oral Health Service Award for working to advance children's oral health through education, medical/dental collaboration, and advocacy.
Fetal Care Center Special Delivery Unit Expected to Open in Summer of 2019
We are pleased to announce the Fetal Care Center’s special delivery unit is expected to open in the summer of 2019. This special delivery unit will offer a smooth transfer of care and access to our network of pediatric subspecialists and our three pediatric intensive care units.