What is Cleft Lip and Palate?
As the elements of the face assemble together in the embryo, the lip and the palate develop in segments that fuse together in the midline. Failure along any part of this process can lead to a separation or a cleft on either one side (unilateral cleft lip) both sides of the lip (bilateral cleft lip). The deformity and appearance of a cleft deformity can vary from a small notch in the lip to a complete separation not only of the lip and an small island in the center but a distortionor total separation of the roof of the mouth and a collapse of the base of the nose with potential twisting or and unfurling of the nostrils. When the clefting extends only to the lip, we call the deformity a cleft lip but if it involves the roof of the mouth it is then termed a cleft palate.
Cleft lip with or without cleft palate is the most common facial birth defect in the world, occurring in 0.2 to 2.3 per 1000 births.