Learn About Cleft Lip and Palate

What is the definition of Cleft Lip and Palate?

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

Save information for later
Sign Up
What are the alternative names for Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft palate; Craniofacial defect

What are the causes of Cleft Lip and Palate?

There are many causes of cleft lip and palate. Problems with genes passed down from 1 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

Babies are more likely to be born with a cleft lip and palate if they have a family history of these conditions or other birth defects.

What are the symptoms of Cleft Lip and Palate?

A child may have one or more birth defects.

A cleft lip may be just a small notch in the lip. It may also be a complete split in the lip that goes all the way to the base of the nose.

A cleft palate can be on one or both sides of the roof of the mouth. It may go the full length of the palate.

Other symptoms include:

  • Change in nose shape (how much the shape changes varies)
  • Poorly aligned teeth

Problems that may be present because of a cleft lip or palate are:

  • Failure to gain weight
  • Feeding problems
  • Flow of milk through nasal passages during feeding
  • Poor growth
  • Repeated ear infections
  • Speech difficulties
Not sure about your diagnosis?
Check Your Symptoms
What are the current treatments for Cleft Lip and Palate?

Surgery to close the cleft lip is often done when the child is between 2 to 9 months old. Surgery may be needed later in life if the problem has a major effect on the nose area. Some patients may receive tympanostomy tubes during the surgery also.

A cleft palate is most often closed within the first year of life so that the child's speech develops normally. Sometimes, a prosthetic device is temporarily used to close the palate so the baby can feed and grow until surgery can be done.

Continued follow-up may be needed with speech therapists and orthodontists.

Who are the top Cleft Lip and Palate Local Doctors?
Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
What are the support groups for Cleft Lip and Palate?

For more resources and information, see cleft palate support groups.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Cleft Lip and Palate?

Most babies will heal without problems. How your child will look after healing depends on the severity of their condition. Your child might need another surgery to fix the scar from the surgery wound.

Children who had a cleft palate repair may need to see a dentist or orthodontist. Their teeth may need to be corrected as they come in.

Hearing problems are common in children with cleft lip or palate. Your child should have a hearing test at an early age, and it should be repeated over time.

Your child may still have problems with speech after the surgery. This is caused by muscle problems in the palate. Speech therapy will help your child.

When should I contact a medical professional for Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft lip and palate is most often diagnosed at birth. Follow your health care provider's recommendations for follow-up visits. Call your provider if problems develop between visits.

Cleft lip repair - series
What are the latest Cleft Lip and Palate Clinical Trials?
Evaluation of Dental Age of Children With Cleft Lip and Palate Using Willems Method, Cameriere European Formula, and London Atlas

Summary: The aim of this study is to investigate whether there is a significant difference in dental age between children with CLP and healthy controls using the Willems method, Cameriere European formula and London Atlas. It is aimed to create a new formula if there is a significant difference in dental age between children with CLP and healthy controls.

Match to trials
Find the right clinical trials for you in under a minute
Get started
Normative Nasalance Scores for Native French-speaking Children

Summary: The velopharyngeal mechanisms (in particular the movements of the soft palate) is frequently affected by craniofacial anomalies such as cleft lip and palate. Nasofibroscopy is frequently used in clinical care to assess the velopharyngeal function because it allows for direct visualization of the velopharyngeal port. However, it is an invasive procedure that could not be tolerated well by children....

What are the Latest Advances for Cleft Lip and Palate?
Long-Term Effect of Intermediate Rhinoplasty in Unilateral Complete Cleft Lip Nasal Deformity.
One-Stage Repair of Alveolar Cleft and Nasal Deformities Using Grafts From Nasal Septum: Application of Vomer, Ethmoid, and Septal Cartilage.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Otomicroscopic and functional outcomes after cleft palate repair via Sommerlad intravelar veloplasty vs. modified Veau-Wardill-Kilner push-back.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: April 14, 2021
Published By: Charles I. Schwartz, MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Dhar V. Cleft lip and palate. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 336.

Felton M, Lee JW, Balumuka DD, Arneja JS, Chadha NK. Early placement of ventilation tubes in infants with cleft lip and palate: a systematic review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018;158(3):459-464. PMID: 29161200 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29161200/.

Wang TD, Milczuk HA. Cleft lip and palate. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 188.