Birth Defects

What is cleft lip?

A Answers (3)

  • Cleft lip is considered a birth defect, meaning the defect is present before the baby is born. This type of defect is an opening or split of the upper lip. Some babies with a cleft lip have a small notch in their upper lip. Others have a larger opening or hole that goes all the way to the bottom of their nose. In some cases, a cleft lip can be seen on an ultrasound, an imaging test doctors use to check on the baby during pregnancy.
  • AHealthwise answered

    A cleft lip is a treatable birth defect of the mouth that appears as one or more splits (clefts) in the upper lip. Cleft lip can range from a small indentation in the lip (incomplete cleft) to a split in the lip that may extend up into one or both nostrils (complete cleft), and possibly into the palate.

    Cleft lip forms early in fetal development. It can be caused from genetic factors or maternal environmental exposures during pregnancy, such as drinking alcohol or using tobacco.

    Cleft lip often occurs with cleft palate. These conditions are the most common birth defects of the head and neck. Cleft lip, whether it occurs alone or with cleft palate, is more common in males. Most cases of cleft lip involve only one side of the upper lip and only very rarely occur in the lower lip.

    Cleft lip is corrected with surgery, usually within a newborn's first 3 to 6 months. Depending on the type and severity of the deformity, more than one surgery may be needed. Sometimes other treatments, such as speech therapy, are also beneficial. Feeding by bottle or at the breast usually doesn't require any special measures.

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  • AStuart Linder, MD, Plastic Surgery, answered
    A cleft lip is a split or division of the two sides of the upper lip. It includes skin, mucosa, and muscle of the upper labrium. The separation may also include the nasal base, and may extend to the bones of the upper jaw and gingival mucosa. Cleft lip may be unilateral or bilateral (on two sides) of the philthrum. The incidence is 1 in 700 births. The specific etiology is unknown. May be environmental and genetic factors involved in cleft lips and palates. 
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How is cleft lip diagnosed?