Babies Born With A Cleft Palate Or Lip
As many as one in 700 babies are born with either a cleft palate or cleft lip. Often these can cause a number of related problems including glue ear, crooked teeth and hearing difficulties. The good news is that almost all babies go on to have successful corrective surgery.
How Clefts Develop
Clefts begin to form at about the 6 weeks gestation and are gaps in the palate, lip or gum. For reasons that are unknown, these parts which should join together do not do so in a small number of developing babies.
The causes are unknown, but some studies have suggested that smoking during pregnancy is linked with the condition. An ultrasound scan when you are 18 weeks pregnant will pick up around half of the cleft lips, but cleft palates are not diagnosed until after the birth.
Feeding Your Baby
Babies born with a cleft palate will often have difficulty sucking. There is a special soft bottle that will help here, ask your pharmacist for details. Babies with a cleft lip are usually able to feed satisfactorily.
A cleft lip is usually repaired by surgery within the first three months. A cleft palate is usually operated on at about age 6-9 months. In both cases treatment is effective and babies go on to lead a normal life. However, there is usually some scarring and the shape of baby's nose may be a little irregular.