Cleft Lip and Palate

Why are babies born with Cleft Lip and Palate?


Approximately 70 percent of infants are diagnosed with cleft lip and palate every year. Genetic variants and environmental factors are mainly responsible for such kinds of disorders in newborns. Let’s discuss what it is, its causes and how it is treated.

Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate: Overview! 

Cleft means ‘gap’. A cleft lip is a congenital split in the upper lip on either or both sides of the center. In the same way, cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth till the nose. Cleft lip is often associated with cleft palate. They are common birth defects, however, they are also linked with genetics or syndromes.

A baby born with such defects can be corrected by various surgical procedures that restore normal functionalities and appearance with minimal scarring. If your baby has such form of a defect and you’re planning to get him/her treated, then India is a hub of affordable medical treatment. Take support of a well-established medical travel assistant company for budget-friendly cleft lip surgery cost in India.

What could be its possible symptoms?

Usually, it is noticed as soon as the child is born. It may be recognized as:

  • A gap in the lip or roof of the mouth (palate) on either or both sides of the face.
  • A gap in the lip which is in the form of either a small notch in the lip or an extension from the lip till the upper gum and palate in the bottom of the nose.
  • A gap in the roof of the mouth. However, it doesn’t affect the outer appearance of the face.

In rare cases, a cleft is in the muscles of the soft palate at the back of the mouth and covered by the mouth’s lining. Mostly, this kind of cleft goes unnoticed at the time of birth which develops later. It can be noticed by the following signs or symptoms:

  • Difficulty while feedings
  • Difficulty while swallowing that results in plenty of liquids and foods to come out of the nose
  • Severe ear infections
  • Nasal speaking voice

What are the circumstances responsible for such situations?

This defect occurs when tissues in the baby’s face and mouth don’t merge properly. These tissues usually fuse in the second and third months of pregnancy. But in babies with such defects, the fusion never happens that results in an opening.

After conducting a survey, it has been concluded that genetics and environmental factors are equally responsible for such kind of disorder. The mother or father pass on to the gene that can develop cleft. In other cases, the baby inherits a gene that causes clefting and then, an environmental factor further triggers the clefting to occur.

What are the risk factors involved?

There are many risk factors that may increase the possibilities of developing a cleft lip and palate in a baby. It includes:

  • Family History: If it runs in the family, then a baby has higher chances of developing cleft lip and palate.
  • Diabetes: If a woman is diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy, then her baby is likely to develop this disorder.
  • Obese: Studies say that obese women are likely to give birth to babies with such defects.
  • Other factors: If a pregnant woman smokes, drinks alcohol, then her baby is likely to born with cleft lip or palate.

Boys babies are prone to develop cleft lip with or without cleft palate. However, cleft palate without cleft lip is common in females.

Cleft lip and cleft palate disorder are commonly found in Native Americans as compared to African Americans.

What are the complications associated with cleft lip and palate? 

  • Feeding is one of the common problems that a baby has to undergo immediately after birth. A baby born with cleft lip faces less feeding difficulties as compared to a baby born with a cleft palate.
  • Babies with cleft palate are at a higher risk of developing severe ear infections and hearing loss.
  • If the cleft expands till the upper gum, then various dental problems occur such as tooth development.
  • As the palate has a crucial role in sounds formation, therefore children may face difficulty in the development of normal voice. It may sound too nasal.

And, these problems definitely lead to several behavioral, emotional or social problems which lower down a child’s self-confidence. Therefore, it should be treated within a year.


While in many cases, the exact reason is still unknown. Parents should consider genetic counseling before taking steps for family planning. Take prenatal vitamins with a doctor’s prescription before getting pregnant. Stop consumption of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy in order to avoid such defects.

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