Cleft Lip & Palate

Frequently Asked Questions

How likely is a future sister or brother to have a cleft?

The chance of a cleft lip/and/or palate occurring in future brothers and sisters of a child with a cleft is higher than in the general population. As a very general rule the chances of having a second child with a cleft are around 1 in 30 as opposed to 1 in 700 on the population at large. However, to ascertain the "risk" in any particular situation a referral should be made to a genetic counsellor (via a GP or cleft team). They will study the family medical history both sides and come up with a statistical "risk" factor.

The likelihood depends on the type and severity of the cleft of the first child. The risk of recurrence also increases if more than one family member has a cleft.

A great deal of genetic research is going on into the causes of cleft lip and some progress has been made in determining what happens in some specific types of clefting (see article). There are suggestions that taking large doses of folic acid in "high risk" groups may prevent clefting. (See article).

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