Among the most common birth defects, newborn babies are born with an orofacial cleft, which can be described as an opening in the lip (cleft lip) and/ or in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate). While cleft palates are mostly common among girls, cleft lip along with a combination of cleft lip and cleft palate occur mostly in boys.
The development of the baby’s upper jaw, along with its nose and mouth occurs during the weeks 6-10 of the pregnancy. The bones and tissues of these parts fuse together for the development of the mouth roof and the upper lip. A cleft is a result of incomplete fusion of these parts in the baby.
Challenges with Cleft lip and cleft palate
In addition to the impact that a cleft lip or palate makes on the child’s appearance, it can also hinder with the functional and physical development of your baby. As the palate is the part of the mouth that prevents food and drinks from entering the nose, feeding a baby with cleft palate can be a major challenge. Children with a cleft palate can also experience hearing loss or other problems, due to the buildup of fluids in the middle ear. Children with clefts also face dental-related problems such as ridge defects, missing (or extra) teeth, and gum defects.
Kids with cleft palate problem also have speech defects (like a nasal problem in their voice) or language problems caused by sound distortion.
Cleft lip and cleft palate surgery
Thanks to the advancement in medical technologies, a cleft lip surgery or a cleft palate surgery can be easily and successfully performed on infants to correct this birth defect.
cleft lip surgery, resulting in the closure of the cleft lip, can be performed when the baby is at least 10 weeks old and weighs at least 10 pounds. Cleft palate surgery can be performed on older babies, usually between 9 to 18 months of age. Cleft lip and palate surgeries are performed by plastic surgeons, and may also involve specialists such as a pediatrician, otolaryngologist, or a speech pathologist. External scars in the upper lip and nose are usually caused by these cleft surgeries, but they fade or are less prominent visibly over time.
While a single surgery is sufficient for repairing a cleft lip or palate, children born with orofacial cleft mostly require additional treatment as they go into their adolescence or even adulthood. The pharyngoplasty surgery may be recommended to improve the child’s speech, or the alveolar bone graft may be required to provide stability to the child’s permanent teeth. The alveolar bone graft is usually performed on children between the age of 6 to 10 years, and help in closing the gap in the gums or bones of the frontal teeth.
Parents of babies with cleft problems are recommended to seek consultation with experienced plastic surgeons. To ensure the complete success of the surgical treatments, you are advised to disclose your child’s medical history along with any other medical complications in your child. For the best package cost, be sure to check the available surgery packages online in order to select the right one for your child.