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Cleft lip and palate are birth defects wherein there is an opening either in the lip or the roof of the mouth (palate). This is when the upper lip and tissue forming the palate do not join prior to birth. This defect can either manifest itself as a small notch in the upper lip to a deep gash like groove running through the roof of mouth to the nose. Apart from affecting the child’s looks, it can also cause problems in talking and eating. This defect is completely treatable, by conducting surgeries in a few steps. The surgery can take place between 12 and 18 months of the baby’s birth.
Clefts can be categorised as only a cleft lip, cleft lip with cleft palate or cleft palate alone. Cleft can be present on either only one side of the lip (unilateral) or can be bilateral too. A cleft lip can easily be seen and can even be diagnosed through an ultrasound during pregnancy; however detecting a cleft palate is very difficult. Even though this condition is detected during pregnancy, the extent of defect can only be estimated by a medical examination.