Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
Print    Email
Bookmark and Share

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information - Definition

Search Health Information    Cleft Palate

Cleft Palate

Cleft palate is a birth defect in which the roof of the mouth (palate) does not develop normally during pregnancy, leaving an opening (cleft) that may go through to the nasal cavity. Until treated surgically, cleft palate can interfere with feeding, speech development, and hearing.

Cleft palate is usually noticed at birth during a newborn's first physical examination. The condition often occurs with cleft lip; sometimes problems linked with cleft palate also include deformities of the nasal septum or nasal cavity. The severity and type of cleft palate vary according to where the cleft occurs on the palate and whether all the layers of the palate are affected.

This defect forms early in fetal development when the upper jawbones and tissues do not completely join during fetal growth. It may be inherited or develop as a result of maternal environmental exposures during pregnancy, such as consumption of alcohol.

Surgery is used to correct cleft palate; complex problems usually require more surgeries and treatment, such as speech therapy. Before the defect is repaired, special assistance may be required for feeding, such as using a special nipple on the baby's bottle.

Last Revised: October 16, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Adam David Schaffner, MD, FACS - Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

© 2014 St. Mary's Health System   |  3700 Washington Avenue  |  Evansville, IN 47750  |  (812) 485-4000