Prevalence of Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

The annual prevalence of infants born with cleft lip with or without or cleft palate is 1 in 10,000. Table 1 provides annual prevalence statistics for children born with only cleft lip or cleft palate, and with cleft lip with or without cleft palate.

Families with children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate face an economic burden. Average health care costs for children ages 1 to 10 years with cleft palate only and both cleft lip and palate are about 6 times higher than average costs for children without clefting, and are 3 times higher for children with only a cleft lip.1 A study of hospitalization charges in 2007 for cleft palate (with or without cleft lip) surgery found an average charge of $19,227 per procedure; the total hospitalization cost of these procedures for the entire United States was nearly $112.96 million.2 An earlier study (1992) found the lifetime costs (direct costs for medical, developmental, and special education services as well as indirect costs of lost work/productivity) for each child with cleft lip/palate were $101,000, with U.S. lifetime treatment costs for affected children totaling $697 million.3

Table 1. Average annual prevalence of cleft lip and palate and number of births affected by these defects: United States, 2010–2014

Birth Defect Prevalence* Annual Number of Cases Cases per births
Cleft Lip with or without Cleft Palate 10.00 3,937 1 in 1,000
Cleft Lip with Cleft Palate 6.40 2,518 1 in 1,563
Cleft Lip Only 3.56 1,402 1 in 2,807
Cleft Palate Only 5.93 2,333 1 in 1,687

* Prevalence per 10,000 live births

Cleft lip and palate data cited are from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), and represent the years 2010 through 2014. Cleft lip and palate data were collected from 13 states and territory: Arizona (2010–2013), Arkansas (2010–2013), California, Delaware, Georgia (Metropolitan Atlanta), Hawaii (2012), Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, representing 5,186,504 live births and adjusted for maternal race/ethnicity-specific distribution.

Source: Mai CT, Isenburg JL, Canfield MA, et al. National population estimates for major birth defects, 2010–2014. Birth Defects Research. 2019;111:1420–35.


  1. Boulet SL, Grosse SD, Honein MA, Corea-Villaseñor A. Children with orofacial clefts: health-care use and costs among a privately insured population. Public Health Reports. 2009;124(3):447–53.
  2. Allareddy V, Turkistani K, Allareddy V, et al. Factors associated with hospitalization charges for cleft palate repairs and revisions. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2012;70:1968–1977.
  3. Economic costs of birth defects and cerebral palsy – United States, 1992. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 1995; 44(37):694–9.
Last Reviewed
August 2022