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Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

What is cleft lip and cleft palate?

A cleft lip is an opening in the lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Clefts result from incomplete development of the lip or palate while the baby is forming before birth.

What causes a cleft lip and cleft palate?

In most cases, the cause of cleft lip and cleft palate is unknown. These conditions cannot be prevented.

What can be done to help our baby?

A cleft lip can usually be repaired in the first few months of life.

A cleft palate can usually be repaired some months later. The exact timing of these repairs depends on the baby’s health and considerations of his or her future development, and is determined by the doctor who performs the surgery.

Can our baby be fed properly?

Some babies with clefts have very few or no problems feeding, while others have more difficulty. Use of special bottles and careful positioning of the baby are sometimes helpful modifications. Your doctor will give you proper guidance.

What’s the treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate?

A cleft lip may require one or two surgeries depending on the extent of the repair needed. Surgery can be while your baby is very young.  Surgeries are performed by the Plastic Surgery Team.  For more detailed information about cleft lip and cleft palate please click here.

Repair of a cleft palate often requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years. The first surgery to repair the palate usually occurs when the baby is between 6 and 12 months old. The initial surgery creates a functional palate, reduces the chances that fluid will develop in the middle ears and aids in the proper development of the teeth and facial bones.

This page was last updated at 11:08AM on August 4, 2021.