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The cleft lip and palate is one of the most common deformations of humankind. The clefts in the face can develop in the area of the upper lip, the bones of the maxilla and the hard and soft upper palate in the fourth to eighth week of pregnancy. They can occur in various combinations, either on the left or the right hand side of the face or bilateral.
Cleft children are born on all continents and in each and every country. Estimates on the frequency of the cases vary. In Europe it is assumed that one in 500 to 800 births 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).