A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip. Sometimes this includes the bone of the upper jaw. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not join together. Cleft lips and palates can be unilateral or bilateral.
Why did this happen?
Sometime between the 6th and 11th week when your baby was developing, the parts of the lip and/or palate failed to come together properly. We all have clefts of our lips and palates initially. Some join together and others do not. Why some do not, we may never know. Sometimes clefts can be found in families who have had clefts in other family members. Some clefts can be linked to certain syndromes. Here are some statistics to help you understand the frequency of clefting:
Clefts occur in 1 in 700 newborns
Cleft palates are not racially influenced
Clefts occur in more males than females
There is only a 5%, chance that another child will be born with a cleft. If another child is born with a cleft, the incidence increases.
What is the treatment of cleft lip/cleft palate?
Primary repair- repaired at approximately 10 weeks
Palatal repair- repaired at approximately 9-12 months
Secondary repair- if needed- repaired at approximately 4-6 years
Alveolar cleft- repaired at 8-10 years
Final repair- if needed repaired at 14-16 years
It is important to note that every child is different. Some children may require more surgeries than others, while others may require less. This all depends on the severity of their cleft and how the child heals after surgery is completed.