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Cleft lip and palate

  • Definition

    Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth.

    Alternative Names

    Cleft palate; Craniofacial defect

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    There are many causes of cleft lip and palate. Problems with genes passed down from one or both parents, drugs, viruses, or other toxins can all cause these birth defects. Cleft lip and palate may occur along with other syndromes or birth defects.

    A cleft lip and palate can:

    • Affect the appearance of the face
    • Lead to problems with feeding and speech
    • Lead to ear infections

    Risk factors include a family history of cleft lip or palate and other birth defects. About 1 out of 2,500 people have a cleft palate.