Three Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask About Cleft Lip and Palate

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One of a parent’s biggest fears is that their baby might have a birth defect. Cleft lip and palate can be very serious defects, and it’s important that parents keep themselves informed if their baby does have one, the other, or both. Though cleft lip and palate can cause problems like feeding and breathing difficulties, there are treatments for it. Here’s a short guide of things you were always afraid to ask about cleft lip and palate.

What is cleft lip and palate, exactly?
When a baby’s face forms, two halves of the roof of the mouth or the lip come together. When they don’t join, this forms a space — or a cleft — where they should have formed together. If the lip does not join together, it’s referred to as a cleft lip. If the roof of the mouth doesn’t join together, this is referred to as a cleft palate.

What are the chances my baby has it?
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 4,440 babies born with a cleft lip (with or without a cleft palate) and 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate in the United States each year. Though the exact cause of cleft lip and palate is not known, there are a few factors that can make it more likely that a baby will have one, the other, or both. These include smoking, diabetes, and certain medications.

What are the treatment options for it?
Cleft lip and palate are actually one of the most common ENT problems that babies face, and surgery is usually the method of treatment used to correct it. Lip and cleft palate repair are generally recommended during the first 12 to 18 months of a baby’s like and are typically not done any later. Many children need additional lip and cleft palate repair as they grow.

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

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