Early in pregnancy at about 6-8 weeks, the usual fusing, or joining up of tissues of the lip and or palate does not occur, leaving an opening or “cleft”. A cleft sometimes occurs in the lip, or the palate (soft and/or hard palate), or the lip and palate together. It can occur on one side of the lip/palate (called a unilateral cleft) or on both sides (called a bi-lateral cleft).
Clefts are one of the more common congenital conditions, affecting one in 700-800 babies born in Australia.
Why did it happen?
In a small number of cases, there is a genetic link. For the remainder, there is no family history. The cause can be unknown, multifactorial, chromosomal or environmental. Research has shown there is no one simple reason for the condition to occur.
The internet is an extremely useful information tool but parents need to be careful of website information overload. Also being aware that information stated may not be applicable to your child.
For a list of links to relevant organisations in Australia and around the world, click here.