DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings or splits in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate) or both. Cleft lip and cleft palate result when developing facial structures in an unborn baby don't close completely.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects. Cleft lip and cleft palate most commonly occur as isolated birth defects but are also associated with many inherited genetic conditions or syndromes.
Having a baby born with a cleft can be upsetting, but cleft lip and cleft palate can be corrected. In most babies, a series of surgeries can restore normal function and achieve a more normal appearance with minimal scarring.
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