CLEFT LIP AND PALATE
Cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis) (colloquially known as harelip), which can also occur together as cleft lip and palate, are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery soon after birth. Cleft lips or palates occur in somewhere between one in 600-800 births.
Cleft lip is formed in the top of the lip as either a small gap or an indentation in the lip (partial or incomplete cleft) or it continues into the nose (complete cleft).
Cleft palate is a condition in which the two plates of the skull that form the hard palate (roof of the mouth) are not completely joined. The soft palate is in these cases cleft as well. In most cases, cleft lip is also present. Cleft palate occurs in about one in 700 live births worldwide.
The hole in the roof of the mouth caused by a cleft connects the mouth directly to the nasal cavity.
Cleft lip and palate is very treatable; however, the kind of treatment depends on the type and severity of the cleft.
Most children with a form of clefting are monitored through young adulthood. Care can be lifelong. Treatment procedures can vary. For example, treatment may wait on jaw correction until the child is aged 10 to 12 (argument: growth is less influential as deciduous teeth are replaced by permanent teeth, thus saving the child from repeated corrective surgeries), while in other cases the treatment to correct the jaw may be done earlier (argument: less speech therapy is needed than at a later age when speech therapy becomes harder). Treatment can differ between individual cases depending on the type and severity of the cleft.