Virtual Pediatric Hospital: CQQA: Cleft Lip
Common Questions, Quick Answers: Pediatrics Cleft Lip
Donna D'Alessandro, M.D.Peer Review Status: Internally Reviewed
Lindsay Huth, B.A.
Creation Date: February 2003
Last Revision Date: February 2003
Common Questions, Quick Answers
What is cleft lip?
A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip.
It usually looks like a gap in the skin of the upper lip.
It is a
defect. It is the most common birth defect of the head and face.
It can happen on one side of the lip (unilateral cleft lip) or
both sides of the lip (bilateral cleft lip).
What causes it?
We do not know what causes cleft lip.
Studies show that it could be caused by both:
Environment during pregnancy
Infections or illnesses
Who can get it?
Everyone has a chance of getting a cleft lip.
You are at higher risk of having a baby with a cleft lip
Other family members were born with it
You have a boy &endash; twice as many boys have cleft lip than
You drink, smoke or take drugs when pregnant
How is it diagnosed?
A cleft lip happens early in pregnancy.
It usually happens 5 or 6 weeks after you become
It can usually be seen on an ultrasound.
If it was not seen before birth, it will be noticed
immediately after birth.
Is it contagious?
How is it treated?
There is very good treatment for a cleft lip.
Surgery can repair it.
Doctors will also look at your child's hearing, speech, eating
practices, teeth, and emotional health.
The team of doctors and other professionals may include:
Pediatrician ( a child's doctor)
Surgeon ( a doctor who does operations)
Dentist or orthodontist (doctors who work on teeth)
Speech therapist ( a professional who helps speech
Audiologist (a professional who helps hearing problems)
Psychologist (a professional who helps with behavioral and
How long does the treatment last?
The doctors may see your child for many years.
This is to make sure his hearing, speech, eating, and
are doing well.
A cleft lip is a gap in your child's upper lip.
It is a
defect We do not know what causes it.
Twice as many boys are born with it than girls.
A doctor may diagnose it before birth with an ultrasound, or
after your baby is born.
A cleft lip can be repaired with surgery.
A team of doctors and professionals will see your child for
many years. They want to make sure his hearing, speech, eating,
are doing well.
American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association / Cleft Palate
Foundation. 2002. (cited 2003, January 14). URL:
KidsHealth for Parents. Cleft Lip and Palate. 2000, September.
(cited 2003, January 14). URL:
March of Dimes. Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate. 2003. (cited 2003,
January 14). URL:
Additional pediatric resources: GeneralPediatrics.com | PediatricEducation.org | SearchingPediatrics.com
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