SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Usually, a split (cleft) in the lip or palate is immediately identifiable at birth. Cleft lip and cleft palate may appear as:
- A split in the lip and roof of the mouth (palate) that can affect one or both sides of the face
- A split in the lip that can appear as only a small notch in the lip or can extend from the lip through the upper gum and palate into the bottom of the nose
- A split in the roof of the mouth that doesn't affect the appearance of the face
Less commonly, a cleft occurs only in the muscles of the soft palate (submucous cleft palate), which are at the back of the mouth and covered by the mouth's lining. This type of cleft often goes unnoticed at birth and may not be diagnosed until later when signs develop. Signs and symptoms of submucous cleft palate may include:
- Difficulty with feedings
- Difficulty swallowing, with potential for liquids or foods to come out the nose
- Nasal speaking voice
- Chronic ear infections
When to see a doctor
A cleft lip and cleft palate are usually noticed at birth, and your doctor may start coordinating care at that time. If your baby has signs and symptoms of a submucous cleft palate, make an appointment with your child's doctor.
June 17, 2015
- Wilkins-Haug L. Etiology, prenatal diagnosis, obstetrical management and recurrence of orofacial clefts. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Crockett DJ, et al. Cleft lip and palate. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America. 2014;22:573.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate surgery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/cleft-lip-and-palate.html#content. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Campbell A, et al. Cleft lip and palate surgery: An update of clinical outcomes for primary repair. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2010;22:43.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/cleftlip.html. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/cleftlip/. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 23, 2015.
- Your baby's first year. Cleft Palate Foundation. http://www.cleftline.org/parents-individuals/publications/booklets/. Accessed May 13, 2015.
- Parameters for evaluation and treatment of patients with cleft lip/palate or other craniofacial anomalies. American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. http://www.acpa-cpf.org/team_care/. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Cofer SA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 8, 2015.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 20, 2015.