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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Cleft palet

11/20/2006

Question:

Is cleft palet the result of genetics?

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders:

Cleft palate is a fairly common birth defect. About 1 out of 1500 newborns are 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 gestation - about -10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy 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%. If one of the parents is affected as well, the chance to have another affected child is higher - 15% - since there are two people affected.

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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