If your child is born with a cleft palate, or if an ultrasound shows that the baby you’re expecting has a cleft lip, you’ll likely have a lot of questions. Knowing more about these birth defects can help you give your child the best life possible—here’s what you should know:
What is a cleft lip?
If the tissue that makes up the lip doesn’t come together completely before birth, a baby will be left with an opening in the upper lip. Sometimes the opening is a small, and sometimes it goes all the way up to the nose.
What is a cleft palate?
If the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth doesn’t join together before a baby is born, the child will be left with a cleft palate. Babies with cleft palates may also have cleft lips.
What causes orofacial clefts?
Together, cleft lips and cleft palates are called orofacial clefts. The cause of these birth defects is unknown, but according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), there are some factors that increase the likelihood of a child being born with an orofacial cleft:
- If the mother smokes during pregnancy, a baby is more likely to have an orofacial cleft.
- If the mother has diabetes, the baby is more likely to be born with a cleft palate or cleft lip.
- Some medications can increase the risk of a baby being born with a cleft palate.
- If your baby is born with an orofacial cleft, it isn’t your fault, but knowing the risk factors can help you have a healthier pregnancy and lower risks to your child’s health.
What problems are associated with orofacial clefts?
Children with cleft lips and cleft palates may have trouble eating and speaking. They may also have hearing problems and dental problems.
How are orofacial clefts treated?
Fortunately most cleft lips and cleft palates can be repaired and most children with orofacial clefts can go on to lean normal, healthy lives. These clefts are often treated with advanced plastic surgery techniques. In most cases, surgery to repair a cleft lip should take place before the child is 1 year old and surgery to repair the cleft palate should take place before the child is 18 months old.
This surgery can help prevent problems with breathing, eating, hearing, and language development. To learn more about treating cleft palates and cleft lips, schedule a consultation with The Cleft & Facial Cosmetic Surgery Center.