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Cleft lip and cleft palate, also known as orofacial cleft, is a group of conditions that includes cleft lip (CL), cleft palate (CP), and both together (CLP).[1][2]A cleft lip contains an opening in the upper lip that may extend into the nose.[1] The opening may be on one side, both sides, or in the middle.[1] A cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth contains an opening into the nose.[1] These disorders can result in feeding problems, speech problems, hearing problems, and frequent ear infections.[1] Less than half the time the condition is associated with other disorders.[1]

Cleft lip and palate are the result of tissues of the face not joining properly during development.[1] As such, they are a type of birth defect.[1] The cause is unknown in most cases.[1] Risk factors include smoking during pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, an older mother, and certain medications (such as some used to treat seizures).[1][2] Cleft lip and cleft palate can often be diagnosed during pregnancy with an ultrasound exam.[1]

A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery.[1] This is often done in the first few months of life for cleft lip and before eighteen months for cleft palate.[1] Speech therapy and dental care may also be needed.[1] With appropriate treatment, outcomes are good.[1]

Cleft lip and palate occurs in about 1 to 2 per 1000 births in the developed world.[2] CL is about twice as common in males as females, while CP without CL is more common in females.[2] In 2013, it resulted in about 3,300 deaths globally, down from 7,600 deaths in 1990.[3] The condition was formerly known as a "hare-lip" because of its resemblance to a hare or rabbit, but that term is now generally considered to be offensive.[4]


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