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A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth (palate). Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when the upper lip or the palate does not develop completely before birth.
A baby can be born with either a cleft lip or a cleft palate, or with both conditions. These conditions may affect one side (unilateral) of a baby's face or both sides (bilateral). Babies with cleft lip or cleft palate often have difficulty feeding.
Sometimes, cleft lip and cleft palate occur with other conditions and may be a part of a syndrome.
These conditions can be diagnosed during a routine ultrasound during pregnancy. They may also be diagnosed at birth or during a routine physical exam shortly after birth.
Surgery will make it easier for your child to eat and breathe. Correcting these conditions can also help prevent problems with speech, language, and hearing development. Some children may need more surgeries later in life. Your child may also need treatment for any related genetic conditions.
Treatment often occurs over the course of several months or years. Depending on your child's condition, your child may have initial treatments as a baby, then continue with treatments as a young child, and into adolescence.
These symptoms may be an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get help right away. Call 911.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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