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Cleft Lip and Palate

A "cleft" is an opening or gap. "Palate" means "roof of the mouth". A cleft lip or cleft palate may happen alone or together. About one in every 600 babies in the United States is born with isolated cleft lip and/or palate (reference).

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Causes

Clefts arise during fetal development from disruptions in the dynamic interplay of genes, diet, and environment. About 20 percent of isolated cleft lip may be associated with the IRF-6 gene. Other genes associated with the birth defect include MAFB and ABCA4 (reference).

Treatment

Cleft lip and/or palate may be corrected with surgery.