Cleft Lip

Cleft Lip

Birth defects are important causes of infant and childhood disability. These, may have significant impact on individuals, families, healthcare, systems and society.

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What is Cleft Lip?

It is defect like a gap or cut in the upper lip. It is one of the orofacial clefts. Incidence in India is 9.3 per thousand births.

What is severity of Cleft Lip?

The degree of severity can vary greatly, from mild (notching of Lip) to severe (large opening from the lip up through the nose).

When Cleft Lip is commonly treated?

Cleft Lip is repaired between 3 to 6 months of age.

What are the complications if Cleft Lip is not treated?

Cosmetic defect, Feeding difficulties, Teeth growth deformity, Speech and language delay, Psychosocial issues


Child having Cleft Lip or combined Cleft Lip & Palate between 3 to 6 months of age with following:

  • Haemoglobin > 10gm/dl
  • Weight > 10lbs
  • White blood cell count < 10000/

Surgery is performed under General Anaesthesia.

Depending upon severity of Cleft Lip, the duration of surgery varies between 2 hours to 4 hours.

Child is usually kept nil by mouth/fasting for atleast 6 hours post-surgery. During this period hydration is maintained with intravenous fluids. After 6 hours expressed breast milk or formula feed can be given with sterile spoon. Child will be given Antibiotics, Analgesics and Multivitamin syrup for atleast 3 days post-surgery. Under normal healing conditions stitch removal is done approximately on 7th post operative day. If the child is on Breast feeding it can be initiated only after stitch removal. Improvement in surgical scar will occur over 6 months to 1 year post surgery.

Depending upon child’s general condition and complexity of Cleft Lip, there may be chances of Delay in healing of stitches, unsightly scar along stitches, need of revision surgery.

Genetics, Pesticides, Radiations, Vitamin deficiency in mother, maternal infections, consanguineous marriage; Tobacco, smoking & Alcohol addiction in mother, late 1st pregnancy (greater than 35 years), etc.

  • Avoid late pregnancy (> 35 years)
  • Discourage marriage in blood relation
  • Prevention of Malnutrition
  • Prevention of infection like Varicella, HIV, Toxoplasmosis, Herpes, Syphilis
  • Protection against mutagen (X-ray, Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking)
  • Prevention maternal Folate insufficiency, Diabetes, Obesity
  • Increase in awareness about risk factors and etiological factors

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