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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Cleft lip & palate

A picture of a child with a repaired cleft lip A cleft lip or cleft palate is a split or gap in the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth (palate). It's relatively common, happening in around one in 700 to one in 1000 babies. We do not know exactly what causes it.

Cleft lip may show up during routine ultrasounds when you're pregnant. Otherwise it's noticed once your baby is born.

Babies with cleft lip or palate can have trouble with feeding. There are things you can do to help with this.

Treatment is with surgery. Most children will need several operations to fully correct the problem.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2021.

Page reference: 120121

Review key: HICLP-120121