Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial malformations that occur early in pregnancy.


A cleft lip is a physical separation of the two sides of the upper lip. This separation may also extend into the base of the nose and include the bases of the upper jaw and/or gum.

A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth. It can involve the hard palate (the bony portion of the roof of the mouth and/or the soft palate the soft back portion of the mouth).

Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. As the lip and palate develop separately, it is possible to have a cleft lip without a cleft palate, a cleft palate without a cleft lip or both a cleft lip and cleft palate. Cleft lip and/or cleft palate occurs in approximately one in 300 children born annually. The cause is not known.

Cleft lip and/or palate is thought to occur more frequently in developing countries than here in Australia.

Children born with this malformation may have eating problems as food and drink can pass from the mouth to the nose. They are at increased risk of hearing problems and speech difficulties. In developing countries such as the Philippines these children, born to poor, indigent families will not be able to go to school and face enormous hurdles in having a normal life. In Australia such children are treated within the first year of their life.

cleft lip

Cleft lip

cleft palate

Cleft palette

Helping Children Smile Inc - Happy Mother

Relieved and Smiling Mums

Helping Children Smile Inc - Happy Mother

Caring Australian Nurses

Watch our Video – 2010


Jenica had a bilateral cleft lip with an excoriated section on the lip tissue which oozed blood. She always wore a mask when in public. Thanks to surgery provided by Helping Children Smile INC, Jenica now no longer wears a mask in public, Jenica wears a beautiful smile.

Jenica at the post operative check-up clinic with her mum and Kate Rogers one of the nurses from Helping Children Smile.

Helping Children Smile Inc - Jenica After Surgery

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