Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur very early in pregnancy. While the baby is developing inside the mother. Clefting results when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area. And when the tissue that is available does not join together properly.
A cleft lip is a physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. This separation often extends beyond the base of the nose. It includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum.
A cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. It can involve the hard palate (the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth), and/or the soft palate (the soft back portion of the roof of the mouth).
Both clefts can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible to have a cleft lip without a cleft palate.Or a cleft palate without a cleft lip, or both together.
Who Gets Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?
Cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, affects one in 700 babies annually, and is the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. Clefts occur more often in children of Asian, Latino, or Native American descent.
Compared with girls, twice as many boys have a lip deformity. However, compared with boys, twice as many girls have palate deformity without a lip one.