Cleft Palate

What is Cleft Palate?

Cleft palate is a medical condition which refers to an opening or split in the roof of the mouth and lip. Also known as Orofacial cleft, it is a disorder that develops during early pregnancy while the baby is still developing inside the womb. The disorder does not let the facial tissues to fuse together, thus leaving an opening between the nose and mouth. The disorder leads to feeding problems, speech and hearing problems, and ear infections. The cleft palate generally develops between 6 to 9 weeks of pregnancy. The cleft palate only happens, when the tissue that makes up the roof of mouth does not adequately join together during pregnancy.

Children having a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate, often face problems with speaking and eating. The cleft occurs when two plates of skull fuse to form the hard palate, but do not join. It affects the soft palate or muscles at the back of the mouth, and are accompanied by cleft lip in certain cases


The defect can easily be diagnosed during pregnancy with the help of ultrasound scans. The cleft palate appears as the opening in roof of the mouth (palate) which affects either one or both sides of the face. The disorder may go unnoticed at the time of birth, and diagnosed only when symptoms develop. The common symptoms may include:

  • Feeding difficulty.
  • Difficulty in swallowing with liquids coming out of the nose.
  • Problem while speaking, with voice coming out of the nose.
  • Persistent ear infections from unknown reasons.



The defect occurs by birth and seem to affect the facial tissues. The disorder is caused when the facial tissues don’t fuse together due to lack of tissue or muscles. Some of the most probable causes include:

  • Environmental Factors.
  • Specific genes.
  • Syndromes.



The main risk factors are:

  • Family history.
  • Gender.
  • Habits.
  • Diabetic or obese women.




To prevent the occurrence of this disease, one should take care of:

  • Genetic counselling.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Cutting on the use of tobacco or alcohol.

How is it diagnosed?

Earlier, diagnosis was only possible at the time of birth, and was done by physical examination. At Medanta, following are the technologies used to diagnose this disease:


How is it treated?

The cleft palate is treatable. However, the treatment depends on severity and complexity of the case. At Medanta, the treatment takes place in the following ways:


  • Surgery

    It is performed when the baby is 6 to12 months old, and aids in creating a functional palate obstructing any liquid to pass to the middle ear. The functional palate helps in normal tooth development.

  • Bone grafting

    It is performed when the child the age of 8 years, and helps stabilize the upper jaw. All future surgeries help improve appearance, close openings between nose and mouth, normalize breathing and speech, and realign the jaw.

When do I contact the doctor?

You should immediately consult a doctor, if your baby experiences hearing loss, ear infections, speech difficulties, or dental problems. At Medanta, your baby will be treated just right by our medical and clinical experts. 

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