Cleft lip and palate

A split in the upper lip and/or palate that is present at birth. Cleft lip is a vertical, usually off-centre split in the upper lip that may be a small notch or may extend to the nose. The upper gum may also be cleft, and the nose may be crooked. The term hare lip refers only to a midline cleft lip, which is rare. Cleft palate is a gap that may extend from the back of the palate to behind the teeth and be open to the nasal cavity. Cleft palate is often accompanied by partial deafness and there may be other birth defects. Surgery to repair a cleft lip may be undertaken in the first few days after birth or at about 3 months. It improves appearance; after repair, speech defects are rare. A cleft palate is usually repaired at about 12 months, but further surgery, orthodontic treatment, and speech therapy may be required.


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