Cleft lip and cleft palate
Shprintzen, Robert J. Center for Craniofacial Disorders, Montifiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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Two of the most common congenital anomalies in humans, resulting from incomplete closure of the lip and palate during early embryonic life. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the face and mouth are formed by the fusion of several different parts. The lip is fully fused 6 or 7 weeks after fertilization. The palate, which forms the roof of the mouth and separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity, is fully fused 10 weeks after fertilization. If fusion fails to occur or breaks down, an opening, or cleft, occurs in the lip, the palate, or both. Although cleft lip and cleft palate are associated with separate embryologic events, that is, are separated by a long time on the embryonic time scale, both often occur in an affected individual. Clefts vary in frequency among racial subgroups, with incidence ranging from 1 per 250 live births to 1 per 750 live births. See also: Mouth
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