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Health Tip: Birth Defects of the Lip and Upper Mouth

They're called oral clefts

(HealthDay News) -- Certain birth defects of the mouth and lip are called oral clefts. Clefts occur when there is not enough tissue to properly form a lip or skin on the roof of the mouth. These conditions, called cleft lip and cleft palate respectively, can occur by themselves, or together.

Clefts are common -- affecting one in every 700 to 1,000 children born in the United States. The Nemours Foundation says most of the time these conditions can be corrected with reconstructive surgery between the ages of 12 and 18 months.

Boys are more commonly born with a cleft lip only, while girls most often have a cleft palate without a cleft lip.

While the causes of cleft lip and cleft palate aren't known, it is believed that they can be inherited. Other risk factors may include use of alcohol and tobacco while pregnant, the foundation says.

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