Cleft Palate Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Cleft Palate Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


The cleft palate is a birth defect condition characterized by a gap in the roof of the mouth. In most cases, cleft palate can also be inherited from parents. In this case, nothing can be done to prevent cleft palate

Nonetheless, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of having a cleft baby. One of them is by consuming nutritious food during the first trimester of pregnancy. Because the first three months of pregnancy is the time when facial tissue has formed.

Cleft Palate Symptom

The visible signs and symptoms of a cleft palate are:

  • Lip separation
  • Separation of the palate
  • Separation of the lips and palate
  • Nasal distortion or cleft lip
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Not gaining weight
  • Milk that comes out of the nostrils when breastfeeding

The syndrome that is most often found together with cleft palate is Pierre Robin. The features of this syndrome are a small lower jawbone, a tongue that covers the throat, and a cleft palate (the cleft that occurs is usually U-shaped). Children with this syndrome certainly have difficulty breathing.

Cleft Palate Reason

As many as 30% of cleft palates occur together with other dental and oral diseases. A small number of tissue-damaging chemicals such as phenytoin, retinoids, and cocaine can also cause cleft palate.


The diagnosis is usually made at the time the baby is born. A doctor can diagnose cleft palate by examining a newborn.

However, prenatal diagnosis can also be made by ultrasound examination (at 18 weeks of gestation). A cleft lip is easier to diagnose via a pregnancy ultrasound than a cleft palate.

Cleft Palate Treatment

If a baby is diagnosed with cleft palate, there are things to watch out for, such as:

  • Difficulty breastfeeding, thus interfering with growth
  • Choking risk due to the connection between the oral and nasal cavities
  • Airway obstruction

These three things, of course, depend on the type of cleft (lip, palate, or both) and the degree of severity of the cleft.

Breastfeeding difficulties can be overcome starting from the use of special nipples, and nasogastric (NGT) tubes, to surgery (gastrotomy). NGT installation and gastrotomy are chosen if the patient has neuromuscular disorders. This is a medical condition characterized by the inability of the nervous and muscular systems to work as they should. Meanwhile, when there is difficulty breathing, position the patient face down.

The right time to perform surgery is influenced by several things, including the development of the patient’s speech and growth. Experts argue that patients who undergo surgery before the age of 12 months have better speech abilities than patients who undergo surgery between the ages of 2 to 4 years. However, the right age for surgery is still not scientifically proven.

To prevent babies from being born with cleft palate, pregnant women are advised to consume folic acid, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. In fact, folic acid is needed before a woman realizes she is pregnant.

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