A cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis) are among the most common birth defects affecting children in North America.
The incomplete formation of the upper lip (cleft lip) or roof of the mouth (cleft palate) can occur individually, though occasionally both defects may occur together.
The conditions can vary in severity and may involve one or both sides of the face.
A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs during fetal development when certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally.
This can be corrected through cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, which restores function and a more normal appearance. It can also improve a child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe.
An early intervention by a team of specialists who can evaluate and define a course of treatment is essential in proper cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair. Treatment may include: surgical repair of the cleft, speech rehabilitation and dental restoration.