6.2.7  Cleft lip and cleft palate

Finally, we should mention birth defects such as cleft lip and palate (Figure 6.10). These conditions occur in around one per 500 to 700 of all births, but the rate varies substantially between different ethnic groups and in different countries. The clefts can be repaired surgically, but many affected children in poor communities are left without surgery.

A cleft lip may result in the child being stigmatised and rejected as it grows up. A cleft palate can allow infection to get into the brain through the gap in the roof of the mouth; this rapidly leads to death unless urgent medical attention is received.

Diagrams of a cleft lip and palate
Figure 6.10  Diagrams of (a) a cleft lip, and (b) a cleft palate. (Sources: (a) Felsir; (b) PD-USGOV, both downloaded from Wikimedia Commons)

6.2.6  Oral cancer

6.3  How can the burden of oral diseases be reduced?