What is Cleft Lip?

cleft lip

A cleft lip is a birth defect in which the child’s upper lip develops with an opening in the center, dividing it into two separate sections. The opening sometimes extends to the base of the nose and affects the upper jaw and/or gum. This condition sometimes occurs in conjunction with a cleft palate, in which an infant is born with an opening in the roof of the mouth. It is beneficial to know the causes of and treatment for cleft lip and palate.

Cleft lip affects approximately one in every 700 babies, making it the fourth most common birth defect in the United States. It’s more common in babies of Asian, Latino or Native American descent, and in those of all races who have another family member with a cleft lip or palate. And while cleft lip is more common in boys, cleft palate is more common in girls.

The cause of cleft palate is usually unknown, thought to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Sometimes, it’s caused by a medication taken by the mother during pregnancy, such as anti-seizure/anticonvulsant drugs, acne drugs containing Accutane and methotrexate, a drug used for treating cancer, arthritis and psoriasis.

Cleft lip is sometimes visible during a prenatal ultrasound, or it is diagnosed with a physical examination after the child is born. Since this defect can be associated with other medical conditions, diagnostic testing may be necessary.

Treatment for cleft palate requires a trained team of specialists because of the various medical complications this condition can cause, including difficulty eating and speaking, more frequent ear infections and associated hearing loss and dental problems. At the office of Dr. Steven Warnock, MD, our team of highly qualified professionals comes up with a care plan for the infant based on his or her individual situation. This condition is usually corrected with surgery.

Although treatment for cleft lip and/or palate can be extensive, outlook for children with this birth defect is usually bright. Parents can help by working closely with our medical specialists at the office of Dr. Steven Warnock, MD, located in Draper. Together we can determine the best solution for your child’s unique situation, as we understand that every case is different. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for your baby or child. Cleft lip and palate repair surgery can undoubtedly improve your child’s appearance, but most importantly, it will greatly improve his or her confidence.