Cleft Lip or Palate Defects
During pregnancy, if a baby’s mouth fails to develop properly, it leads to birth defects known as cleft lip and cleft palates. Together, these conditions are medically known as orofacial clefts.
According to the statistics revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of every 1,700 babies that are born in the U.S., one child will be born with a cleft palate. And out of every 2,800 babies that are born in the U.S., one child will be born with a cleft lip. Therefore, cleft palate is a more common birth defect as compared to cleft lip in the U.S.
But it is to be noted that out of every 1,600 births in the U.S., one child will have both cleft palate as well as cleft lip, and therefore, it is possible to have both of these birth defects together.
What is Cleft Palate?
During the sixth and ninth week of pregnancy, the baby’s palate (roof of the mouth) is being formed. In case the tissue that makes up the palate fails to join with the rest of the oral tissues, a cleft palate occurs. It leads to an opening in the front and back parts of the palate. This can cause a great inconvenience for the baby as it tries to nurse. Moreover, babies that are born with a cleft palate are at high risk of developing middle ear fluid that can lead to permanent hearing loss.
What is Cleft Lip?
It is during the fourth and seventh week of pregnancy that the baby’s lips are formed. The process of lip formation occurs when tissues and cells from either side of the head grow towards the center of the baby’s face and combine to form facial tissues. But if the tissues fail to join together properly near the center of the face, a cleft lip occurs.
The cleft lip is the opening on the upper lip which can either be in the form of a small slit or a large slit that goes all the way up from the lip towards the nose. Children with cleft lip face difficulties while feeding as their mouth is unable to close properly. They may also be unable to talk properly as they grow older.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Orofacial Clefts?
The exact causes of cleft palate and cleft lips remain unclear. Doctors believe that changes in genes and environmental factors such as the things and substances that the mother comes in contact with during pregnancy could be the reason for improper development of palate and lips in babies. For instance, certain medications, foods, or lack of nutrients in the diet can hamper the growth and development of facial tissues, leading to orofacial clefts in babies.
The risk factors of orofacial clefts include:
|Women who smoke during pregnancy are at a high risk of giving birth to children with cleft lips, cleft palates, or both.
|Women with diabetes are at a higher risk of giving birth to children with cleft lips, cleft palates, or both.
|Women who use certain medications, especially anti-epileptic drugs, during the first three months of pregnancy are at a higher risk of giving birth to children with cleft lips, cleft palates, or both.
Treatments for Orofacial Clefts
To treat cleft lip and cleft palates, an oral surgeon will perform cleft repair surgeries. The child can receive the oral surgery as early as the first few months after birth. Most surgeons will recommend that the surgery should be performed within the first 12 months of the child’s birth as the tissues are still forming, and the healing process will be much faster.
As the child gets older, they may require additional surgery to address possible tissue or muscle damage. Cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries can significantly improve a child’s life by improving their appearance, breathing, speech, hearing, and allowing them to eat comfortably.
If the cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are performed in the later years of a child’s life, the child may need additional dental care and speech therapies.
At Bay Lakes Center for Complex Dentistry, our expert team of oral surgeons includes Dr. Lasnoski and Dr. Hallas. They will be able to treat your child’s cleft lip and cleft palate with a safe and simple surgical procedure. Call us today at (906) 212-4725 to schedule a consultation or to learn more about our procedures.