A cleft lip is a birth defect that occurs when the lip and the front part of the dental arch fail to form and fuse correctly. Cleft palate is the failure of the back part of the hard or soft palate to form. Approximately 1 in 800 newborns has a cleft lip or palate. Every day in the United States, fourteen babies are born with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate) and seven babies are born with cleft palate alone. There are 150 U.S. and Canadian interdisciplinary cleft and craniofacial teams that help coordinate care with multiple health professionals (including medical, surgical, dental, orthodontic, speech pathology, and psychosocial workers). Issues faced by families may include feeding difficulties, speech and articulation problems, dental development, ear infections and hearing concerns, teasing and stigmatization, multiple surgical treatments, and sometimes learning problems. Treatment results are generally excellent and most children born with cleft lip and/or palate grow up to be well-adjusted and successful adults.
See also: BIRTH DEFECTS
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