Cleft lip occurs due to a combination of environmental and genetic causes. In a large number of cases, we are not able to pinpoint a specific cause.
Environmental factors that may contribute to cleft lip include:
- Vitamin deficiency
Smoking during pregnancy
A cleft lip can be also be a result of genetic factors. When your child has been diagnosed with cleft lip, we recommend that you meet with one of our genetic counselors.
Cleft lip is one of the most common birth defects. More than 4,000 babies are born with a cleft lip each year in the United States.
How Does a Cleft Lip Form?
The tissues of the face and lip form during the first two months of pregnancy. Tissue from each side of the face grows toward the center of the face to form the facial features. When these tissues don’t join together entirely, an opening, called a cleft, remains. The cleft can be a small slit or a large opening that reaches into the nose.