Lake Norman Oral & Facial Surgery • Dr. Raymond J. Haigney II • 9727 Northcross Center Ct. Huntersville, NC 28078 • (704) 987-3132
9727 Northcross Center Ct. Huntersville, NC 28078 • (704) 987-3132
Cleft Lip Symptoms
Cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip and cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Cleft lip and cleft palate occur when the facial structures don’t close completely in an unborn baby.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are common birth defects and can be an isolated incident or associated with other inherited genetic conditions or syndromes.
When parents discover they have a baby born with a cleft, it can be upsetting. Cleft lip and cleft palate can be effectively corrected. In most cases, surgery is able to restore normal function and achieve a normal appearance with minimal scarring.
A cleft in the lip or palate is usually identified immediately at birth. Cleft lip and cleft palate may appear as:
- A split in the lip and palate which affects one or both sides of the face
- A split in the lip that appears as only a small notch in the lip or extends from the lip through the upper gum and palate into the base of the nose
- A split in the roof of the mouth which does not impact the appearance of the face
In some cases which is les common, a cleft can occur only in the muscles of the soft palate. This is at the back of the mouth and covered by the mouth's lining. This type of cleft is often unnoticed at birth and may not be diagnosed until later in life. Signs and symptoms of submucous cleft palate may include the following:
- Difficulty with feedings
- Difficulty swallowing, possibility of liquids or foods coming out the nose
- Nasal speaking voice
- Chronic ear infections
When to see a doctor
Because a cleft lip and cleft palate are usually noticed at birth, your doctor will work with you to start coordinating care right away. If your baby has the signs and symptoms of a submucous cleft palate, it is important to schedule an appointment with your child's doctor.
Cleft lip and cleft palate occur when the tissues in the baby's face and mouth don't fuse together properly. The tissues which make up the lip and the palate will normally fuse together in the second and third months of pregnancy. For babies with cleft lip and cleft palate, this fusion never takes place or is completed which results in the opening or cleft.
Researchers believe that most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In many babies, the cause is unknown. The mother or the father can pass on genes which cause the cleft. In some cases, babies inherit a gene that makes them more likely to develop a cleft, but it is an environmental trigger which actually causes the cleft to occur.
Several factors can increase the chances of a baby developing a cleft lip and cleft palate. These factors include:
- Family history: Parents who have a family history of cleft lip or cleft palate have a higher risk of having a baby with a cleft.
- Exposure to certain substances during pregnancy: Cleft lip and cleft palate are more likely in pregnant women who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or take certain medications.
- Diabetes: There is some evidence that women who are diagnosed with diabetes prior to becoming pregnant may have an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip or palate.
- Obesity during pregnancy. There is some evidence that supports babies who are born to obese women may have an increased risk of cleft lip and palate.
More on Cleft Lip - Diagnosing Cleft Lip & Palate with Ultrasound