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Ask the Experts
Treatment of Cleft, lip & palate
Dr. Malhotra has a special interest in the care of Cleft Lip & Palate patients. Clefts are the most common facial defect & affect the patient not only physically but psychogically too. Such patients require dedicated & expert handling to enable them to look well, speak well & eat well.
A cleft is a congenital defect characterized by a split in tissues (muscle, skin, bone) that occurs due to lack of growth and lack of fusion of certain embryonic processes.
Clefts of the lip & palate is associated with many problems including cosmetic and dental abnormalities, as well as speech, hearing and facial growth difficulties. All of these combined can of course lead to psycho-social problems for the affected individual.
Universally the occurrence of babies born with a cleft defect is approximately one in every 750 births or one newborn every three minutes.
Treatment of Clefts
Despite the disfigurements & functional inefficiencies caused by clefts it is heartening to note that clefts are a repairable birth defect.
The goals of treatment for the child with a cleft lip/palate are:
Since cleft defects are associated with multiple problems involving various tissues, organs and functions, treatment is best carried out by a team of specialists. The Cleft Palate Team consists of a Paediatrician, Operating Surgeon, Orthodontist, Speech therapist, E.N.T. specialist, General dentist & a Psychologist.
It is also important to remember that repairs of cleft lip and palate are done at the proper time as far as the child's growth and development is concerned.
Both the hard and soft palates are repaired surgically. It is important to do palate repair before a child reaches the age of 18 months, because it is during this time that speech is developed. Without a proper palate the child may end up with defective speech.
FAQ's Treatment of Cleft, lip & palate
A cleft lip is a birth defect where there is an opening in the upper lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Cleft lip and palate can occur together or separately.
The exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some cases may be linked to exposure to certain drugs, alcohol, or infections during pregnancy.
Surgery is the main treatment for cleft lip and palate. The goal of treatment is to close the openings and improve function and appearance. Other treatments may include speech therapy, orthodontic treatment, and counseling.
Surgery is typically performed when the child is between 3 and 6 months old for cleft lip and between 9 and 18 months old for cleft palate. Additional surgeries may be needed as the child grows.
There is no known way to prevent cleft lip and palate, but there are steps that women can take to reduce their risk, such as not smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy and getting proper nutrition.