Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cleft palate may cause problems with feeding, ear disease, and speech. Some of the primary and permanent teeth may also be missing. When the lip is cleft as well, the person may face social stigma.
A cleft in the palate is normally present in early embryos; usually these clefts close five or six weeks after conception. The causes of the cleft remaining open are poorly understood. Possibilities include genetics, drugs, infections, maternal illness, maternal smoking and alcohol use, and deficiency of folic acid.
In some cases, cleft palate is caused by syndromes which also cause other problems.
Cleft plate can be corrected by surgery, usually performed between 9 and 18 months. Repeated surgeries are often necessary as the child grows.
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