Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are immediately apparent at birth and don't require special tests for diagnosis.

Ultrasound to diagnose cleft lip and cleft palate before birth

Increasingly, cleft lip and cleft palate are being diagnosed by ultrasound before the baby is born. An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the developing fetus. When analyzing the pictures, a doctor may detect an abnormality in the facial structures.

Cleft lip may be detected with ultrasound beginning around the 18th week of pregnancy. As the fetus continues developing, it may be easier to accurately diagnose a cleft lip. Cleft palate that occurs on its own is more difficult to diagnose using ultrasound, since it can be difficult to see inside the fetus' mouth.

If fetal ultrasound shows a cleft, your doctor may offer a procedure to take a sample of amniotic fluid from your uterus (amniocentesis). Analyzing the fluid may reveal abnormalities that indicate the fetus has inherited a genetic syndrome that can cause other birth defects. However, most often cleft lip and cleft palate occur on their own.

Jan. 27, 2015

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