In the early weeks of development, long before a child is born, the right and left sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth normally grow together. Occasionally, however, in about 1 in every 800 babies, these sections do not quite meet.
A child born with a separation in the upper lip is said to have a cleft lip. A similar birth defect in the roof of the mouth, or palate, is called a cleft palate. Since the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or variations of both.
If a child is born with either or both of these conditions, most often surgery is recommended to repair it.
Is the problem one of a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both?
How extensive is the abnormality?
How can it be repaired surgically?
When should the surgery be performed?
How successful is this type of surgery in correcting the problem?
Is there a risk of ear infections later?
How can this be prevented?