In early pregnancy, different parts of a baby’s face develop separately and then join together. If some parts do not join properly, the baby is born with a cleft.
A cleft lip can range from a little notch in the colored part of the lip to a complete separation of the upper lip which can extend up and into the nose. A cleft palate is a gap in the roof of the mouth. Cleft lip and palate can occur separately or together.
There is comprehensive treatment available for babies born with a cleft which is provided by dedicated cleft specialists. Surgery involves taking the muscles and tissues that didn’t join up in the womb and putting them back together.
Cleft lip and palate is not associated with learning difficulties or other developmental issues, although in around 15% of cases a cleft occurs as part of a syndrome which may have other implications. In the majority of cases, even with extra surgeries and medical appointments, a baby with a cleft will grow up just as happy and healthy as any other child.