Cleft Lip & Palate Facts
What’s a Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate?
Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects — they happen when a baby is developing.
Cleft lip is a split in the upper lip — either one or two sides of the lip — creating a wider opening into the nose. Cleft Palate is a split in the roof of the mouth, leaving a hole between the nose and mouth.
When do they occur?
These defects occur between 6 and 12 weeks in utero. Because the lips and palate develop separately, it’s possible to have cleft lip alone, cleft palate alone, or both together.
What is the cause?
The cause is not always known. Sometimes it is hereditary or part of a syndrome (meaning there are birth defects in other body parts too), It may be related to what happened during a mother’s pregnancy (medications, lack of certain vitamins, exposure to cigarette smoke).
What other problems do these babies have?
Feeding problems… Because there is a hole between the nose and mouth milk can come out of the nose, can happen every time they drink. Ear/hearing problems… Can have hearing loss (may be caused by fluid building up inside the ear). Dental problems… Small teeth, missing teeth, extra teeth, crooked teeth, etc. Speech problems… Kids with cleft palate find their soft palate sometimes does not move well and lets too much air leak out the nose while speaking; makes them sound nasally.
What doctors treat babies with cleft lip and/or palate?
It takes a team of different types of specialists! (plastic surgeon, a speech-language pathologist, an orthodontist, an otolaryngologist (ENT), an oral surgeon, a dentist, a geneticist, a social worker, a psychologist, an audiologist)
What is the treatment for cleft lip and/or palate?
It takes several surgeries. Cleft lip is usually repaired between 3 to 6 months old; cleft palate is usually repaired at 9-12 months old. They then have a bone graft when they’re about 8 years old (usually from the kid’s hip, and uses it to fill in the gap in the upper gum area).
HOW CAN I HELP?
Help us Sponsor A Smile through the Free to Smile Foundation!! Free to Smile Foundation is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization with an all-volunteer staff who works together to help serve the impoverished cleft and palate population around the world.
We are raising money to “Sponsor A Smile.” It takes $275 to provide for one 60 minute surgery. Please stop in to make a donation, or call to donate over the phone. This is a great cause, and we are so thankful for your support!