What is this article about?
In simple terms, a cleft lip or cleft palate occurs when the lip or the roof of the mouth doesn’t close over properly. This forms a cleft (open space) in the lip or mouth. Cleft lips and palates are the most commonly occurring congenital craniofacial deformity and can occur either in isolation or in combination with other congenital abnormalities. These conditions vary greatly in severity, ranging from a small notch in the upper lip to a large gap in the lip and palate. As Vyas et al. point out, they can also occur as associated features in over 300 recognised syndromes. Although the exact cause of cleft lip and palate remains unknown, it is thought that both genetic and environmental factors may play a part.