A cleft lip is an upper lip that is split, something that affects one out of every 700 babies in the U.S. Like a cleft palate, it is caused by the failure of the two sides of the face to unite properly while the baby is in the womb. Although no one knows exactly why clefts happen, they have a tendency to run in families. Hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and certain drugs when used during pregnancy are possible causes.
A cleft palate occurs when there is a direct opening between the palate, or roof of the mouth, and the floor of the nose. During pregnancy, the baby's upper jaw fails to close as it should, leaving a gap. A cleft palate is a more serious condition than a cleft lip, although both require surgery in order to be corrected.
Eating, breathing, speech and psychological problems are some of the difficulties confronted by the child with a cleft lip or palate. To correct the condition, you will likely work with a team involving a plastic surgeon, maxillofacial surgeon, otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), general dentist, orthodontist and oral surgeon.