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Why is a child born with a cleft palate?

Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects, which occur if a baby’s lip and mouth do not develop normally in the uterus. These developmental defects are together called “orofacial clefts”.

The palate or the roof of the mouth forms between the sixth and ninth week of pregnancy. A cleft palate occurs if the tissues that make up the roof of the mouth do not fuse completely. In some children, both the front as well as the back parts of the palate remains open whereas in some babies only a portion of the palate is affected. The exact cause of these birth defects is unknown but a combination of genes and other factors such as things that the mother comes in contact, food or medications that she takes during pregnancy. At least one among three infants born with a cleft palate may have a relative with a similar defect or an associated genetic condition.

According to the CDC, research studies have revealed certain factors that can increase the chances of having an infant with an orofacial cleft, and these include:

  • Smoking: Women who smoke during pregnancy are likely to have an orofacial cleft in their baby.
  • Diabetes: Women with diabetes have an increased risk of having a baby with cleft palate
  • Certain medications: Women who have taken medications such as topiramate or valproic acid during the first three months of pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with a cleft palate.
Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/