A cleft palate is a facial defect in babies that occurs when they are developing inside the womb. A baby’s facial features develop in the first 3 months. Their lips form first, followed by the mouth and palate. Clefts occur if the tissues and cells don’t form in the right way.
- Mothers coming in contact with certain environmental factors such as certain pesticides, heavy metals, or toxic chemicals
- Mothers consuming alcohol or doing drugs
- Certain medications that mothers take during pregnancy:
- Mothers getting exposed to certain viruses (rubella, chickenpox, measles, and toxoplasmosis) during pregnancy
- Mothers having diabetes before pregnancy
- Mother not getting enough folic acid or other nutrients
- Family history of a cleft lip or palate
- Mothers who smoke
What is a cleft palate?
A cleft palate is a birth defect that causes an opening or fault in the roof of the mouth (palate). The word cleft means split or break. The palate is usually formed between the sixth and ninth week of pregnancy. However, in babies with a cleft palate, the tissue that forms the palate doesn’t fuse together during pregnancy. In some babies, a cleft palate can cause
- Opening of front and back parts of the palate.
- Opening of part of the palate.
About 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies are born with a cleft palate in the United States every year.
What are the symptoms of a cleft palate?
A cleft palate is immediately visible after birth. It may
- Appear as a split in the palate that affects one or both sides of the face.
- Be seen along with a defect in the lips along with the palate.
It may also cause
What is the treatment for a cleft palate?
Most babies who have a cleft palate will need some type of surgery. A cleft palate should be repaired before the baby is 18 months old. Additional surgeries may be needed when the child grows up.
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