Cleft Lip and Palate
Alternate Names : Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, Oral Cleft
What can be done to prevent the condition?
Since cleft lip and palate occur early in pregnancy, there is little that can be done to prevent it. Pregnant women may reduce the risk to the fetus of developing cleft lip and palate by avoiding certain environmental factors, such as medications used to treat seizures.
Genetic counseling may be useful for families in which there is a history of cleft lip and palate.
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Infants with cleft palate are at increased risk for chronic otitis media, or ear infections. This risk may persist even after the roof of the mouth has been repaired. Hearing impairments may occur as a result of repeated ear infections.
Speech defects also are common with cleft palate. These may last even after the roof of the mouth has been repaired. Teeth may come in crooked or be poorly positioned.
After surgery to repair the cleft, cosmetic problems may persist. This could cause psychological problems, including depression and low self-esteem. Speech impairments in children are also associated with a higher risk of anxiety disorder as the child ages.
What are the risks to others?
Cleft lip and palate are not contagious. Children of affected people are at greater risk than others to inherit the genetic factors that cause cleft lip and palate. The actual degree of the risk depends on the family history.