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Cleft Lip and Palate – Causes and Symptoms of Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and palate is a congenital defect that is caused due to the incomplete formation of the upper lip and the roof of the mouth called the palate during the early fatal development, between the 5th and 9th week of pregnancy. When the cleft lip and palate fail to form, this results in a gap called a cleft in the palate or on both the sides of the upper lip. Clefting can form in other parts of the face also.

Causes of Cleft Palate and lip
There are different causes for cleft lip and palate. They include:

  • Genes that are passed down from any of the parents can cause this disorder.
  • Viruses and other toxins can also cause this type of birth defects.
  • Fetal exposure to cigarette smoke, illicit drugs and certain medications have been linked to the development of a cleft.
  • Males are twice likely to get cleft lip alone without cleft palate.
  • Cleft palate is more common among females.
  • Maternal obesity is associated with cleft lip and cleft palate.
  • Cleft lip is more common among American Indian and Asian children.

Symptoms
The symptoms of cleft lip and cleft palate include:

  • Change in the nose shape
  • Feeding problems
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Recurrent infections
  • Separation of the lip alone
  • Separation of the lip and palate
  • Poor growth
  • Speech difficulties
  • Flow of milk through nasal passages during feeding

Complications
Those children with cleft lip or without cleft palate face a very difficult challenges in their life. This merely depends on the severity of this disorder. They include:

  • Feeding Difficulties
  • Hearing loss and Ear infections
  • Dental problems
  • Speech difficulties
  • Psychological challenges
  • Lip deformities
  • Displaced teeth

When to see your child’s pediatrician?
A cleft lip or palate is usually seen after birth and a doctor may advise for further care and treatment according to the type and severity of the cleft lip or palate. Follow the health care provider’s advise for follow-up visits.

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