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Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

What are cleft lip and palate?

Cleft lip and palate are openings or splits in the upper lip or roof of the mouth (palate). A child can be born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Cleft lip and palate may be the only birth defects, or they may happen with other defects.

A cleft lip may be as mild as a notch of the lip. Or it may be as severe as a large opening from the lip to the nose.

A cleft palate may leave an opening that goes into the nasal cavity. Cleft palate is not as noticeable as cleft lip because it is inside the mouth. The cleft may:

  • Involve one or both sides of the palate
  • Go from the front of the mouth or hard palate to the throat or soft palate
  • Include the lip

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