Understanding Cleft Palate: The Journey to Healing and Wholeness


When a child is born with cleft lip and/or palate, it can be a very scary time for the parents. There’s a lot to understand about this genetic condition, from the appearance of their newborn’s face to what will happen next in their lives.  Say’s Dr Lawrence Gray, but there is also much hope for healing and wholeness in Christ—for both the patient and the family.

Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft lip and palate is a birth defect that occurs when the tissue that forms your baby’s mouth doesn’t close properly during pregnancy. It can affect one or both sides of the upper lip, as well as the roof of their mouth (palate). The cleft may involve only soft tissue such as gum tissue, or it may go deeper into bone and muscles in which case it can cause damage to teeth or nerves.

The exact causes of cleft lip/palate are unknown but research has shown that certain factors increase risk:

  • Maternal age over 35 years old at time of delivery
  • Having diabetes during pregnancy
  • Having high blood pressure during pregnancy

Foundation of Understanding

A cleft palate, also known as cleft lip and palate (CLP), is a birth defect that affects the roof of the mouth. A baby born with CLP may have an opening in their upper lip or an opening between their nose and mouth.

A baby’s tongue can get stuck in this gap, causing pain and injury to their tongue or gums. This can make it hard for them to eat solid foods and can lead to problems with speech development if not treated quickly.

The prevalence of CLP varies from country to country but is estimated at 1 out of 600 births worldwide; however, some regions are more affected than others: In Ethiopia, where I work as a dentist-pediatrician, one out of every 200 children has CLPs!

What Causes Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft lip and palate is a complex condition caused by a genetic mutation. The severity of the cleft lip and palate can vary, as well as be affected by environmental factors.

The Healing Journey for Families and Caregivers

The healing journey for families and caregivers is complex, but it can be a rewarding one. The following are some of the most important aspects to consider:

  • Early intervention. The sooner you get help, the better off your child will be in the long run. It’s important to find a team of specialists who can provide comprehensive care for your child–and for you as a parent or guardian!
  • Emotional support. You may feel overwhelmed when caring for someone with cleft palate; having someone else around who understands what you’re going through can make all the difference in getting through challenging times together as a family unit (or even just one-on-one).
  • Education about cleft palate and how it affects speech development should be an ongoing part of any treatment plan so that everyone involved understands why certain things need doing in order for optimal outcomes later down life’s road…

Empowering Patients with Knowledge and Resources

  • Knowledge is power.
  • The Cleft Palate Foundation is a great resource for patients and caregivers. They have a list of resources on their website, including information about support groups, financial assistance and insurance coverage, speech therapy options, early intervention services in your area (if you’re not sure where to start looking for them), and more.

Understanding more about cleft lip is the first step to healing.

A cleft palate is a birth defect of the mouth that involves the roof of the mouth (palate). In most cases, it occurs when an infant’s palate doesn’t completely close during development in utero. This causes one side of their tongue to be attached to both sides of their upper jaw instead of just one side.

This can result in several issues including:

  • Speech problems – Because they have difficulty forming certain sounds and words, children with a cleft may have trouble communicating effectively with others or learning how to speak properly.
  • Digestion issues – The opening between your nose and throat allows food particles through into your esophagus where they are broken down by stomach acid before entering into your intestines for digestion and absorption into your bloodstream as nutrients for energy production by cells throughout your body. With poor oral hygiene habits or inadequate nutrition from poor eating habits like overeating sweets/fast food meals late at night after work/school which causes high blood sugar levels afterwards due to insulin resistance caused by too much sugar intake throughout life span (especially when combined with lack exercise), these sugars get stuck inside lining walls lining up digestive system causing damage over time leading up towards cancerous growths called polyps which grow larger until fully formed tumors develop around them eventually rupturing causing internal bleeding which leads death within hours if not treated immediately (often requiring surgery).


Understanding more about cleft lip is the first step to healing. By gaining a deeper understanding of the condition and its causes, you can begin to see how your own journey can be impacted by this information. We hope that this article has provided some insight into what it means to have cleft palate and how you can best support yourself or loved ones who are also going through this process.

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