Fetal Treatment Program of New England

Cleft Lip and Palate

The fourth most common birth defect in the US, cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that occur when there is not enough tissue to properly cover the area, resulting in a physical split of the upper lip or roof of the mouth.

Diagnosed through ultrasound, cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the mouth, in combination or separately, and can only be treated after birth.

A cleft lip may require one to two reconstructive surgeries beginning at three months of age, whereas a cleft palate requires multiple surgeries over the course of 18 years, beginning between 6 and 12 months of age.