Cleft palate (CP) is one of the most common congenital malformations in children. Isolated CP occurs in approximately 1 in 2500 newborns: cleft lip with or without CP occurs in about 1 in 700 live births. Caused by failure of the embryonic palatine shelves to fuse in the midline between the sixth and tenth weeks of gestation. CP actually represents a complex of problems involving not only a defect in the palate, but dysfunction of the eustachian tubes and middle ears as well. Thus, the newborn who has a cleft may have difficulty sucking and feeding and may go on to develop hypernasal speech, a condition that leads to problems with clarity of speech.

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