Cleft Lip / Cleft Palate Defined
A cleft lip / palate birth defect occurs when an infant is born with both a cleft lip and a cleft palate. A cleft palate is normally associated with a cleft lip. About 50 percent of all cleft birth defect cases are diagnosed as cleft lip/palate. Like a cleft lip, a cleft lip/palate can also occur unilaterally or bilaterally.
Treatment for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
Treatment for cleft lip and cleft palate varies depending on the severity and location of the cleft, but multiple surgeries are often necessary. Surgery is normally recommended at an early age since clefts can interfere with development.
Surgery for cleft lip usually takes place before a child is three months old. Depending on the extent of the cleft, two surgeries may be required.
The procedure to repair a cleft palate is called palatoplasy and is usually performed when the baby is between nine and 18 months old. Multiple surgeries might be necessary if the cleft palate is very severe. Most children with cleft palate will also need orthodontic care, including a bone graft to fill the gap on the gum line.
Follow up care is common after cleft surgeries since a child will likely need guidance on issues of speech, hearing, growth, dental and psychological development.
Causes of Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
Clefts can be caused by genetic or environmental factors. It is unclear what exactly causes the birth defect. Numerous studies have linked the use of antidepressants during pregnancy with a higher risk of certain birth defects. Baum Hedlund is investigating the connection between the use of antidepressants during pregnancy and both cleft lip and cleft palate.
Cleft lip and cleft palate have also been associated with women’s use of the anticonvulsant drug, Topamax (topiramate, during pregnancy. Studies have linked the use of Topamax during pregnancy with a higher risk of cleft lip and cleft palate..