Q&A: What are the chances of having a baby with a cleft lip?
I am a mother of two girls aged 6 and 4 and currently 36 years old. I am going to get married to a man of 35 with no children. He was born with a cleft palet and a hair lip. What are the chances of having a child with the same problems and do you think we should see a specialist regarding this matter?

About 22 percent of facial clefting has a genetic origin. Again, most cleft lips with or without cleft palate are produced by environmental insults (teratogens such as alcohol, retinoic acid, maternal illness, protein/calorie malnutrition during pregnancy) interacting with one or more genes.

Additional risk factors include lack of prenatal care during pregnancy, cigarette smoking, lack of a balanced diet and the chronic use of non- prescribed drugs or substance abuse.

If either parent has a cleft, the relative risks become about four to five percent for having a baby with a cleft.

My suggestion is that you look after yourself before and during your pregnancy, good diet, correct nutrients, limit stress, no smoking or drinking. You should have a high level scan during the pregnancy to exclude the diagnosis. The chances are small and the corrective surgery for a cleft is advanced if the problem occurs.

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