Dr David Gillett is a fully accredited Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. Dr Gillett works 2 days per week at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children where he is Chairman of Cleft Lip and Palate and Cranio Maxillofacial Units. Dr Gillett is also the president of the Australasian Cleft Lip & Palate Association and ex President of the Asian Pacific Cleft Lip & Palate Cranio Facial Congress.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects affecting children in Australia. The incomplete formation of the upper lip (cleft lip) or roof of the mouth (cleft palate) can occur individually, or both defects may occur together.
A cleft is a birth defect where the two halves of the palate and/or the lip don’t fuse properly, leaving an open space or ‘cleft’. A cleft in the roof of the mouth, or palate, is known as a cleft palate whereas a cleft between the two halves of the lip is known as a cleft lip. Since the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible for a child to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or variations of both. This can occur on one side of the face only (unilateral) or on both sides (bilateral).
One in every 600 to 800 babies is affected by cleft lip or palate. The cause is unknown, although it is thought that genetic factors play a role in a small proportion of cases.