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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).



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).


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