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Hare lip

Congenital split in the upper lip, sometimes associated with a split in the upper jaw and cleft palate. Hare lip is established in the first weeks of pregnancy as a result of a growth disorder in the lip cleft. It occurs in roughly 1 birth per 1,000, more in boys than girls. The cause is unknown; hereditary factors are significant. Chances of hare lip increase with the age of the mother, and vary according to population group. The outlook and seriousness of the condition are very varied. Associated partial cleavage of the nose can occur, but is rare; other variants are oblique, bilateral and single hare lip. It is understandable that children with the condition often have difficulties with drinking, and breast-feeding in particular can be a serious problem; generally a bottle is used, with a large teat open at the side, or the child may be spoon fed. Admission to hospital may be necessary if malnutrition threatens. Surgical treatment is as a rule most succesful, and usually begins at an early stage: the lip is closed at the age of 2 to 3 months; corrective surgery may be necessary at a later stage.

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