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California BIRTH Defects Monitoring

What are Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?

​Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby's lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. Together, these birth defects commonly are called "orofacial clefts". The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. As a baby develops during pregnancy, body tissue and special cells from each side of the head grow toward the center of the face and join together to make the face. This joining of tissue forms the facial features, like the lips and mouth. A cleft lip happens if the tissue that makes up the lip does not join completely before birth. This results in an opening in the upper lip. The opening in the lip can be a small slit or it can be a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft lip can be on one or both sides of the lip or in the middle of the lip, which occurs very rarely. Children with a cleft lip also can have a cleft palate.

Content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For information and references about cleft lip and cleft palate, please visit: Facts about Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate.

 Rates%20of%20Cleft%20Lip%20and%20Cleft%20Palate

          *Cases per 10,000 Live Births

          **White, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander categories are all non-Hispanic

          Data Source: California Birth Defects Monitoring Program Registry, 2012-2016 (PDF),

          California Central Valley Counties (Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San

          Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare).

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