Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects. Babies with these conditions are born with an opening in the lip and/or roof of the mouth because parts of the lip and mouth did not completely fuse together during fetal development.

The abnormality can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. Children with cleft lip and palate have trouble with:

  • Feeding
  • Hearing
  • Teeth
  • Speech

Treatment involves surgery to repair the lip and roof of the mouth and close the gaps:

  • Children with a cleft lip can get surgery between 3 to 6 months old. 
  • Children with cleft palate can have the procedure between 9 and 12 months old.
  • Follow-up care may include dental treatment and speech therapy.