WHAT IS CLEFT? > Causes of cleft 

Cleft lip and palate

Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common human congenital deformations. These facial clefts can affect the upper lip, the bones of the maxilla and the hard and soft upper palate. They can occur in various combinations and grades of severity, on either the left or the right hand side of the face or bilaterally.

Cleft children are born on all continents and in each and every country of the world. Estimates of the incidence vary. In Europe it is assumed that one in every 500 to 600 births are affected. In Asia these numbers are probably considerably higher, in Africa they are estimated to be somewhat lower. The most affected areas are those with poor environmental conditions: regions contaminated with dioxins or coal dust or those lying at high altitudes, such as the Andes or Himalaya mountains.



Causes of cleft lips and palates

It is still not fully understood what actually causes cleft lips and palates. It has been established that the risk of a cleft deformation is increased by several external factors such as pollution of the living environment and food, hypoxia of the embryo, and malnutrition of the mother (folic acid and vitamin C deficiency), as well as there possibly being a genetic (hereditary) contribution.

Cleft lip and palate develops during the fourth week of pregnancy, when the separate parts of the face join together starting from the outside and proceeding inwards. If the embryo’s development is disturbed during this phase the layers of tissue may not fuse completely. The various types of cleft are then the result.



Causes of cleft lips and palates
Causes of cleft lips and palates