Oral clefts are one of the most common birth defects. A “cleft” is a split or separation. This occurs when the two sides of the palate and/or lip fail to fuse together during fetal development. The three primary types of clefts are cleft lip/palate, isolated cleft palate, and isolated cleft lip.
Cleft Palate- A cleft palate can involve the hard palate, soft palate, or both. When there is a split in the palate, babies cannot suck or swallow normally. They often have trouble with feeding, speech, hearing, ear infections, sinus problems, and dental problems. A cleft palate can be fixed with surgery which is usually done when the child is 12 to 18 months old.
Cleft Lip- A cleft lip happens when the upper lip fails to come together during fetal development. The divide can be small, or it can extend from the bottom of the upper lip to the nose. A cleft lip can be repaired with plastic surgery.