Dental Problems

Cleft lip and palate – Causes and Symptoms

Cleft lip and palateCleft lip and palate are congenital anomalies that affect the roof of the mouth extending to the upper lip. The figure below shows a child with cleft lip and palate. In this article, we shall discuss some of the causes of and symptoms seen in a child with cleft lip and palate.

Causes of Cleft Lip and Palate

  • Genetics:

    Problems associated with genes are passed down to child from one or both parents.

  • Drugs, viruses or other toxins taken by parents may passed to children as birth defects.
  • Cleft lip and palate may occur due to other syndromes at the time of birth.
  • It may be rightly called as Risk factors rather than causes.

    Family history

    is another risk factor for cleft lip or palate. It is estimated that about 1 out of 2500 children have a cleft palate.

Presentation of Cleft Lip and Palate

A cleft lip may be as small as just a notch in the lip or it may be severe as a complete split in the lip that goes all the way to the base of the nose. A child with this condition has it at the time of birth. As the child grows, the cleft grows proportionally.

The Symptoms of Cleft Lip and Palate include:

  • Change in the shape of nose
  • Misaligned teeth

Here are some of the problems faced by the child with cleft lip and palate:

  • Speech difficulties
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Difficult in feeding
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Difficulties while breast feeding, flow of milk through nasal passages during feeding
  • Poor growth
  • Misaligned teeth


A cleft is a fissure or gap or opening. The gap is created by the non-fusion of the lip structures that form before birth. Other parts of the body where cleft can be possibly seen are the eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, and forehead.

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