Your uvula is the fleshy, hanging ball in the back of your throat. A bifid uvula is a uvula that’s forked or split. This condition is usually inherited (passed down), but genetic conditions and environmental factors can also cause it. Treatment usually isn’t necessary unless your bifid uvula causes pain or interferes with proper function.
A bifid uvula is a uvula that’s forked or split into two parts. (Your uvula is the fleshy hanging ball in the back of your throat.)
Some healthcare providers call a bifid uvula a “cleft uvula.” That’s because it’s the mildest form of cleft palate — a condition in which your baby’s palate (roof of their mouth) has a split or opening. Like cleft palate, bifid uvula is a congenital condition (birth defect). In other words, people are born with it.
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A bifid uvula doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong. Some people are just born with a naturally split uvula. However, a bifid uvula can indicate a submucosal cleft palate. That means that your palate didn’t fully develop in the uterus. But unlike a typical cleft palate, you often can’t see a submucosal cleft palate because it’s under the tissue.
A bifid uvula sometimes indicates a submucosal cleft palate. Conditions associated with a submucosal cleft palate include:
Bifid uvulas are common, existing in about 2% of the U.S. population. The condition is more prevalent in certain races, including people of Asian descent and Native Americans. Bifid uvula also occurs more often in babies assigned male at birth (AMAB).
The most obvious symptom of a bifid uvula is a uvula that’s split or forked. Your healthcare provider can visualize a bifid uvula during a routine examination. Bifid uvulas aren’t always apparent in newborns right away. This is because the uvula continues to develop over time.
If a bifid uvula is part of a submucous cleft palate, a child may also have other symptoms, including:
A bifid uvula may be a sign of a submucosal cleft palate. It may also be the result of environmental factors. For instance, smoking, having diabetes and taking certain medications can increase your risk of having a baby with a bifid uvula or cleft palate.
Healthcare providers often diagnose bifid uvula at the time of birth or during a routine pediatrician’s visit. Even if it’s not readily apparent, your provider might suspect bifid uvula or submucosal cleft palate if your baby exhibits other symptoms, like regurgitating their food through their nose.
Most people with bifid uvula lead normal lives with no treatment. However, if a bifid uvula causes speech or feeding difficulties, your healthcare provider may recommend therapy.
Severe cases that interfere with speech, feeding or quality of life may require surgery.
Bifid uvula can be hereditary, meaning it’s passed down through biological families. You can’t always prevent it. However, research shows that you can reduce the risk of having a baby with bifid uvula by avoiding specific environmental factors, like smoking and taking certain medications, and taking prenatal vitamins.
Most people with bifid uvulas lead totally normal, healthy lives. But in some people, the condition can cause speech or feeding difficulties. If your baby has complications due to bifid uvula, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. They’ll likely recommend speech or feeding therapy — or if necessary, surgery.
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you or your baby develop:
Here are some questions you might want to ask your healthcare provider regarding bifid uvula:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A bifid uvula is a uvula that’s split or forked. In most cases, people with bifid uvula lead completely normal lives. Sometimes, though, the condition can cause speech or feeding issues in babies. If you or your baby have complications due to bifid uvula, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider. They can determine an appropriate course of action.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/04/2022.
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