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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Clef palet

08/27/2008

Question:

My grandchild, a most beautiful little girl, was 4 this year. She was born with a clef palet. She was operated on at nine months, and thank God things went great. Now her mam is expecting a baby in December. They both had tests done after my grandchild was born, and both were clear. Can this happen again? I`m so worried.

Answer:

It is great to hear that everything has gone well for your granddaughter.

Cleft palate is a fairly common birth defect. About 1 out of 1500 newborns is born with a cleft palate. It is more common in girls than in boys.

Failure of the palate (roof of the mouth) to close happens early in pregnancy - about 6-8 weeks after conception when the shelves of the roof of the mouth fail to come together and fuse.

Usually, isolated (no other birth defects present) cleft palate is due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. The chance it could happen again is based on many factors including the number of affected persons in the family, the sex of the child and the closeness (blood relation) of affected relatives. This type of inheritance is called multifactorial inheritance.

If cleft palate is the only birth defect and there are no other family members with it, the chance to have another child with cleft palate is about 2% - that means there is a 98% chance it will not happen again.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University