Cleft lip and cleft palate are craniofacial anomalies of the mouth and lip that occur early in utero when the sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth do not fuse together as they should. A child can have cleft lip or a cleft palate, or both. “Most kids have both,” says Dr. Toranto, a plastic surgeon and craniofacial specialist at CHOC. “A cleft palate leaves an opening in the mouth that also affects the normal positioning of the muscles that we use for speech and swallowing.” Fortunately, the current treatment of cleft palate is very effective and offers children full functional restoration. Learn more about how surgery can make a lifelong difference in the life of a child and their family.