Causes of Cleft Lip and How To Manage It

Cleft lip are congenital deformities that manifest at birth. This problem involves the splitting in the upper lip with a gap or narrow opening in the skin of the upper lip. This separation can even extend to the bottom of the nose, jaw bone, palate and gums. It is estimated that one of every seven hundred and fifty births in Canada has the possibility of developing cleft lip. This problem can occur individually or combined with clefts of the palate. It can also occur with other congenital defects that affect other body parts.

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Genetic factors of cleft lip

In certain cases the problem occurs in a family lineage whereby a family has a history of clefts. This can occur if either the family of the father or mother has a history of these cases. If one parent is affected the chances are also high than when there is no parent who is affected by this problem.

Environmental factors

The environmental factors that may leads to clefts of the rips can be divided into four categories including.

  • Drugs
  • Nutrition
  • External environment and
  • womb environment

Teratogens are the common drugs that lead to disturbance in the development and growth in the foetus. The drugs contribute to increased risk of cleft of the lips among children. Such drugs include antiepileptic drugs, retinoic acid, thalidomine, alcohol and cigarette smoking during pregnancy.  Infections such as syphilis and rubella are also known to cause cleft lip. Maternal alcohol and use of cigarette during pregnancy increases the high rates of this problem especially during the first four months of pregnancy. Other factors that lead to the cleft of the lip includes lack of enough folic acid, vitamin and severe exposure to x-ray.

Multifactorial etiology of cleft lip

There is the argument that the development of the cleft lip cannot be explained by use of just the environmental factors. It is argued that the problem is caused by a combination of factors. The argument is that unless an individual is genetically predisposed to this problem, the environmental factors alone may not cause the clefts.

Predisposing factors

Several factors are believed to increase the chances of developing clefts including:

  • Late pregnancies: Women who get pregnant at old age have high chances of having a baby with cleft of the lips.
  • Racial: Some races are at a higher risk of clefts than others. For instance, studies have shown that mongoloids are more susceptible than people from other races.
  • Reduce blood supply: Decreased blood supply to the face during the development of the embryo predisposes the baby to cleft lip.

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