PATIENT INFORMATION > About Cleft > Overview 

Overview

Cleft lip and palate (CLP) is the most common congenital facial deformity in the world. Cleft lips and palates develop during the fourth week of pregnancy when the separate parts of the face begin joining together, starting from the outside and proceeding inwards. If the embryo’s development is in some way disturbed during this phase the layers of tissue do not fuse completely. The various types of clefts are then the result.

Cleft lip and palate is present in every country and in all sections of society. Estimates on the frequency of the cases vary. Approximately 1 in 500-600 children are affected. In Asia these numbers are probably considerably higher. In Africa they are a little bit lower. The most affected areas are those with poor environmental conditions: regions contaminated with dioxins or coal dust or those lying in considerable altitude (Andes or Himalaya Mountains). In India, we estimate that every year, up to 35,000 babies with cleft lip and/or palate conditions are born!

Cleft deformations can vary considerably. They can occur as a cleft lip either on one side of the face (unilateral) or on both sides of the upper lip (bilateral), as a cleft palate, cleft lip and palate or cleft lip and maxilla. Other types of cranio-facial clefts such as lateral clefts or facial clefts are rarer. The combined deformation of cleft lip and palate account for seventy per cent of the cases.



Bilateral cleft lip and palate
Bilateral cleft lip and palate

Simple cleft lip

Simple cleft lip



Cleft palate

Cleft palate



Left-hand lip and maxilla cleft

Left-hand lip and maxilla cleft



Transverse cranio-facial cleft with partial loss of eye

Transverse cranio-facial cleft with partial loss of eye



Full cleft of lip and maxilla

Full cleft of lip and maxilla



Cleft lips and palates develop from the fourth week of pregnancy when the separate parts of the face begin joining together starting from the outside and proceeding inwards. The various types of clefts are then the result.