What is a harelip?

Most of us have seen photos of children who have undergone plastic surgery to repair a cleft lip. A harelip is an old term for what is now called harelip . harelip se refers to a split lip at birth that closely resembles the split lip of a hare, hence the term. The term harelip originated in France ("lip like a hare's") and was shortened to harelip by the English. The term harelip is considered somewhat pejorative now, and the harelip .

A cleft lip occurs when a child's mouth does not form correctly in the womb. A cleft lip is almost always accompanied by a cleft palate, which means that the child's hard palate has not fused properly. A cleft lip can be unilateral or bilateral, but it and the cleft palate can be completely repaired.

The birth defect of cleft lip/palate occurs in one in 700 live births. Occasionally it is a genetic defect, but often it is spontaneous, and the child will have no family history of the defect. It is sometimes detected on ultrasound but is often not visible until birth.

Cleft lip/palate presents some special problems for newborns, especially in feeding. Most tipped babies cannot breastfeed, and must use a bottle with a special nipple for the unique shape of their mouths. Your child will also have a team of experts to care for their needs: a pediatrician, plastic surgeon, audiologist, speech therapist, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, and ear, nose, and throat specialist. These professionals work together to make sure parents are informed about all treatment options, what progress to expect, and how to overcome obstacles.

Because the cleft often involves the sinuses and ears, a child with a cleft lip/palate is often prone to ear infections and upper respiratory infections. Although the vast majority of these children have normal intelligence, problems with the structure of the mouth and ear may require the services of hearing and speech therapists.

The harelip is repaired at 10 weeks of age if the baby weighs 10 pounds. Cleft palate is repaired between the ages of nine and 12 months, depending on the child. Other plastic surgery or palate surgery may be required as the child gets older, but it is meant to improve what has already been done. Online resources and support groups are available for parents of these special children. The good news is that the defect can be completely repaired and most children lead normal, healthy lives.

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