A cleft defect occurs very early in a pregnancy and the exact cause is not clear. It is known that both genetic and environmental factors are involved.
Folic acid and/or zinc deficiency, drug and alcohol consumption, viruses, and complications during pregnancy can all disrupt normal development and contribute to birth defects like clefts.
Cleft defects sometimes involve disorders in other organs including the brain, heart, ears, kidneys, etc. Hence, a complete medical check-up to detect any associated disorders should be done as soon as the infant is born.
In most cases both genetic factors and pregnancy complications contribute to cleft defects. Usually there is no single identifiable cause. It is important for families to know that a cleft defect is usually no one’s fault.