A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Cleft Lip and Palate


 

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One of the things that many parents fear when they learn that they are going to have a child is the prospect of birth defects and that something could potentially be wrong with their baby. One of the most common ENT problems at birth — that is ear, nose, and throat problems — is cleft lip or palate. Here are a few key facts to help parents understand how often it occurs, what causes it, and how it’s treated.

1. How often does it occur?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 2,650 babies born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies that are born with a lip that is cleft — with or without a cleft palate. There are some risk factors that could increase a baby’s chances of being born with a cleft palate or lip, so it’s not an entirely random occurrence.

2. What causes cleft lip and palate?
Cleft palate and lip occurs when the two sides of a baby’s mouth or face don’t quite join during the growth process, which leaves a gap, or cleft. According to the CDC, smoking, diabetes, and the use of certain medications can all increase a baby’s chances of being born with a cleft palate or lip.

3. How is it treated and when?
A cleft palate or lip is treated with surgery to help join the two parts where the cleft is formed. The surgery should be performed within the child’s first year of life, which is ideal. Cleft palate and lip can cause breathing difficulties, feeding problems, and lead to a number of other health problems, so cleft lip and cleft palate repair should be performed as soon as possible.

Do you have any other questions about cleft palate or lip? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

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