What causes Cleft Lip and/or Palate?
The exact cause of cleft lip and palate is unknown, but nonsyndromic cases of cleft lip/palate may be due to either genetic or environmental factors.
Is Cleft Lip and/or Cleft Palate Genetic?
Over 30 gene mutations have been identified as being linked to cleft lip and palate, and parents with a family history of clefts have a higher risk of having a child with a cleft:
- If neither parent has a cleft lip/palate, the likelihood of having a child with cleft lip and/or palate is approximately 1 in 1,000.
- If one parent has a cleft lip/palate, the likelihood of having a child with cleft lip/palate is estimated to be 5%.
A genetic counselor may be able to provide an assessment of the risk of having a child, or a second child, with cleft lip and/or palate.
Are there environmental factors associated with cleft lip and/or palate?
There are also many environmental factors that have been associated with increased risk of cleft lip and palate, including:
- Exposure to various drugs (anti-seizure medications, ondansetron, diazepam, nitrofurantoin, corticosteroids, methotrexate) during pregnancy
- Maternal tobacco or alcohol use
- Maternal folate deficiency during pregnancy
- Maternal obesity
- Amniotic band sequence
- Maternal diabetes
Resources for the Craniofacial Community
myFace provides individuals and families living with a facial difference access to holistic comprehensive care, psychosocial services, education, resources and support that pave the way for better outcomes.