Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, Cleft Uvula
Cleft lip is the presence of one or two vertical fissures (clefts) in the upper lip – cleft lip can be on one side only (unilateral) or on both sides (bilateral) – resulting from failure of the normal process of fusion of the lip to come to completion during embryonic life. Cleft lip is one of the most common physical birth defects. On the average, one baby per 1,000 is born with a cleft lip. Cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth (the palate) due to a failure of the palatal shelves to come fully together from either side of the mouth and fuse, as they normally should, during embryonic development. The opening in the palate permits communication between the nasal passages and the mouth. Cleft palate is a common physical birth defects, although not as common as cleft lip. About 1 baby in 2,000 is born with cleft palate. A cleft palate prosthesis is designed to close the opening left by a cleft in the palate and thereby to improve feeding and speech.
A cleft uvula involves the little V-shaped fleshy mass hanging from the back of the soft palate when it it is cleft. Cleft uvula is a common minor anomaly occurring in about 1% of whites and 10% of Native Americans. Persons with a cleft uvula should not have their adenoids removed because, without the adenoids, they cannot achieve proper closure between the soft palate and pharynx while speaking and develop hypernasal speech. Also called bifid uvula. These anomalies can all be dealt with surgically.