First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Cleft lip
Cleft lip is a treatable birth defect of the mouth that appears as one or more splits (clefts) in the upper lip. Cleft lip can range from a small indentation in the lip (incomplete cleft) to a split in the lip that may extend up into one or both nostrils (complete cleft), and possibly into the palate.
Cleft lip forms early in fetal development. The main causes seem to be family history and the mother's health during pregnancy.
Cleft lip often occurs with cleft palate. These conditions are the most common birth defects of the head and neck. Cleft lip, whether it occurs alone or with cleft palate, is more common in males.
Cleft lip is corrected with surgery, usually within a newborn's first 3 to 6 months. Depending on the type and severity of the deformity, more than one surgery may be needed. Sometimes other treatments, such as speech therapy, are also beneficial. Feeding by bottle or at the breast usually doesn't require any special measures.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam David Schaffner MD, FACS - Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.