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Cleft lip and palates

The cleft lip and palate is one of the most common deformations found in all of humankind. The clefts in the face can affect the area of the upper lip, the bones of the maxilla and the hard and soft upper palate. 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 of the world. Estimates on the frequency of the cases vary. In Europe it is assumed that one in every 500 to 600 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 at a considerable altitude (Andes or Himalaya Mountains).

Causes of cleft lips and palates

From the medial point of view it is still not fully understood what actually causes cleft lips and palates. It has been recognised that the risks for a cleft deformation are increased by several external factors such as pollution of the environment and food, hypoxia of the embryo and malnutrition of the mother (folic acid and vitamin C deficiency) as well as there possibly being a hereditary origin. 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 any 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 palates
Cleft lip and palates

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