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Cleft Lip and Palate are facial birth defects A cleft lip affects the upper lip ranging from a notch to a complete fissure extending into the nose A cleft palate affects the roof of the mouth with a groove that may extend through the dental arch These abnormalities may occur separately or together Cleft lip and palate are facial malformations that may occur separately or together They may also occur in association with other syndromes or birth defects The separation of the lip can vary from a small notch to a complete separation extending into the nose The cause of these malformations may be mutant genes or teratogens Teratogens are agent that cause abnormalities in a developing fetus such as certain viruses or chemicals As well as being disfiguring these abnormalities can cause feeding difficulties and problems with speech development Risk factors are a family history of cleft lip or palate and presence of another birth defect The incidence of cleft lip and palate varies with different races approximately 1 out of 1000 Caucasians are affected The incidence of cleft palate alone is 1 out of 2500 people not that rare of an occurrence There is no proven way to prevent this defect Physical examination of the mouth nose and palate confirms the presence of cleft lip or cleft palate Diagnostic testing may be performed to determine or rule out the presence of other abnormalities Symptoms of this defect include separation of the lip separation of the palate separation of both andor varying amounts of nasal distortion Treatment of cleft lip and palate involves several specialties including plastic surgeons orthodontics speech therapists and others Treatment may extend over a period of several years Surgery to close the cleft lip usually performed at 1 or 2 months of age Later surgery may be needed if there is extensive nasal involvement Since cleft palate is usually diagnosed at birth it can usually be closed within the first
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