HomeCleft Lip/ Palate What Causes Cleft Lip and Palate

What Causes Cleft Lip and Palate in Dallas, TX

Cleft lip and cleft palate occur during pregnancy when tissue fails to form properly. Parents of children with cleft lip and/or cleft palate may face uncertainty, anxiousness, or even guilt, which is why seeking help from the compassionate, non-judgmental staff at the International Craniofacial Institute is so important.

The Anatomy of an Unfinished Masterpiece

It’s typical to view a cleft condition as something that “went wrong.” However, it’s more accurate to view it as something “unfinished.” A cleft results from incomplete joining (fusion) of some embryo body areas very early in a baby’s development. This failure to fuse typically occurs during the sixth to the eleventh week of pregnancy. After a couple of windows of opportunity, those particular sections of the body have no further chance to fuse. The body moves on to other development, and the area of unfinished fusion becomes the basis for a cleft.

Cleft Cause?

Statistics reassure us that having a child with a cleft does not mean you’ll have other children with the same condition. In fact, your chances only increase by 2 to 5 percent compared to couples with no cleft-affected children. Variations in the programmed information packets (genes) that determine a baby’s development enable clefts to occur in either gender and any race; however, it tends to affect boys more often than girls and is slightly more common in some races as compared to others. While cleft lip/palate conditions occur alone, we also see them as a subset of other craniofacial (cranio=head/skull; facial=face) syndromes and conditions.

Studies point to external and/or controllable factors that might contribute to the risk of having a child with this condition. Mothers between the ages of 19 and 35 statistically have a lower incidence of conceiving a baby with a cleft, as do moms who practice preventive measures such as taking supplemental folic acid and eating a healthy diet with adequate vitamins and minerals. Women can take steps to reduce risk by avoiding environmental factors that may contribute to the likelihood of conceiving a baby with a cleft, including pesticides, cigarettes, lead, and all varieties of drugs (prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, anti-convulsant medications, alcohol, and any form of nicotine).

You can determine your approximate risk of conceiving a child with a cleft condition by obtaining genetic counseling prior to conception. Genetic counselors are highly educated in understanding how your health and family medical history relate to having a baby with a cleft. It is becoming the norm, rather than the exception, for cleft palate treatment team referral to occur during pregnancy following ultrasound diagnosis, rather than after the child’s birth.

Why Choose International Craniofacial Institute?

The International Craniofacial Institute is one of the leading institutes for craniofacial disorders and conditions. Our doctors and surgeons have treated over 17,000 patients with genetic disorders worldwide. These disorders are most often centered on craniofacial issues, palate repair, and cleft lip repair. In addition to diagnosing and treating these issues themselves, the doctors and specialists also train other professionals from all over the world. The International Craniofacial Institute was founded by Dr. Kenneth Salyer, a surgeon, in 1971, and today it is headed by Dr. David G. Genecov.

If you have a child or another family member who is suffering from a genetic syndrome or has a cleft lip, cleft palate, or craniofacial complication, the staff at the International Craniofacial Institute can help. Contact us today to talk with the doctors and staff about your options and how we can help.