Cleft Palate is a facial and oral malformation that occurs very early in pregnancy, while the baby is developing inside the mother. Clefting occurs when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area, and the tissue that is available does not join together properly. Cleft Palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth and can involve the hard palate and/or soft palate. It can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. Cleft palate affects one in 700 babies annual, and is the fourth most common birth defect in the US. In most cases, the cause of cleft palate is unknown and conditions cannot be prevented. Most scientists believe clefts are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There appears to be a greater chance of clefting in a newborn if a sibling, parents or relative has had the problem.