Cleft Palate is a congenital fissure in the roof of the mouth forming a communicating passageway between mouth and nasal cavities. It may be unilateral or bilateral and complete and incomplete. When it is incomplete, it involves only a part of the hard of soft palate.

Some call Cleft lip a harelip…it consists of a vertical cleft or clefts in the upper lip. This congenital condition results from the faulty fusion of the median nasal process and the lateral maxillary processes. It is usually unilateral and on the left side, but may be bilateral. It may involve either the lip or the upper jaw or both and often accompanies cleft palate. Non-genetic factors may also be responsible for causing this condition.

People take fruits and vegetables for granted. Did you know that fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy? Vitamins and minerals keep babies from developing birth defects. Consider adding these plants to your garden. Fruits and vegetables that are high in folic acid and other vitamins and minerals are most important. Some examples are beans, corn, carrots, turnips, yucca, tomatoes, onions, cassava, watermelons, spinach, lettuce, and cucumbers.

Add them to your diet. Take multi-vitamins.

Don’t forget: always consult with your physician before changing your routine. They know your medical history.

First the facts… Like many other structural defects, cleft lip and cleft palate occur during the first few weeks of life. Very often it happens before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. The lip forms between the 4th and 5th week, and the palate forms between the 7th and 8th week.

Clefting can occur if a variety of influences come together at the moment that the lip and palate are forming. A combination of genetic factors (from both the mother and the father) and environmental influences determine whether the lip or palate will fuse together. Because of this, the etiology (cause) of clefting is said to be multifactorial in nature. (Note: There are some types of clefts that are caused by specific genes inherited from the parents, but very often the abnormality is an isolated occurrence within the family genetics).

For children born in the United States, corrective surgery is done when the child reaches 10 pounds. After surgery and when the child grows up, no one knows that he or she has had a cleft lip or cleft palate before (none of the children in the United States with cleft lip and palate reaches the age of 2 without corrective surgery). Because of poverty and financial burden, a child in the Philippines with such deformities can’t be operated in usual manner or at the right time. Often, they reach the stage of a young adulthood and the cleft lip or palate still shows. The only time that such deformities can be corrected is when free medical aid is available.

A Genetic Counselor can offer you more personal odds based on your family history. If you think you are at a risk for a defect of the face and head, you can seek the advice of a counselor affiliated with a craniofacial team.

It is not possible to prevent all birth defects from happening, but there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk or severity of the defect. The following have been associated with cleft lip and palate in humans. If you are trying to become pregnant, try to do these things in the months before pregnancy.

1) Take vitamins and eat plenty of foods with Vitamin B. Low levels of folic acid and Vitamin B6 are associated with clefts.

2) Cleft lip and palate can occur because your body has too little folic acid. This can happen because of dietary reasons (not eating well), metabolic reasons (your body is not producing enough folic acid or its metabolites) or exposure to environmental agents. For example, exposure to certain insecticides, heavy metals or taking certain drugs will inhibit the production of folic acid. Something that does this is known as an anti-folate.

3) The FDA recommends 400 mcg of folic acid per day. There are researchers, who believe you should take at least 800mcg daily. If you think you are at high risk for birth defects, you might consider the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.