What You Should Know If Your Baby Has A Cleft Lip And Palate

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If you have recently had a baby that has a cleft palate and lip, you might be understandably worried and upset about the situation. However, there are many facts that you should know when your baby has a cleft lip and palate. Getting the facts can help you to feel more prepared to deal with the situation and to help your baby grow up to be as healthy and happy as possible going forward. 

Feeding Your Baby Can Be More Complex

One of the first issues you may face with your baby with a cleft palate/lip is feeding them. The malformation of their mouth will make it tough for them to latch to the nipple (whether you are using a bottle or the breast). They also may have nasal regurgitation issues (meaning they will spit up through their nasal cavity essentially) and too much air intake, causing excess gas. 

Your feeding times with your new baby may also be much longer than they would be otherwise. While these struggles are serious and babies with cleft palates/lips can have nutritional deficiencies, you can manage these problems and have a healthy child. You just need to have patience, consult with lactation specialists and pediatricians, and figure out a feeding routine that works for you and your baby. There are also special feeding appliances that can help your baby better feed. 

They Will Need to See a Specialist Soon After Birth

If you want to be sure that your baby's cleft lip/palate are properly treated and repaired, the care and treatment will need to begin early in their life. Generally, speaking you will want to have that first appointment scheduled within a few weeks of birth. 

They will see a craniofacial specialist that is adept at the treatment of clefts. There are often fairly large teams of specialists that work on cleft lips/palates, including dentists, surgeons, and more. These doctors will all work together to develop a plan for your child's future. 

There Will Be Surgeries Involved

Cleft lips and palates do require surgical interventions to be repaired and dealt with. The first of these surgeries often occurs within the first three to six months of your child's life. While this may seem scary to you, it helps to prevent the damage to the palate and lip from becoming permanent and irreversible. 

There will be additional surgeries when your child is around a year old and potentially more surgeries later in childhood and even as an adult. Many people with cleft palates/lips have noses that develop unevenly, for example. Because of this, even in adulthood, a cleft rhinoplasty may be necessary. However, not all children born with a cleft have structural issues with their nose. 

Your Child Will Likely Have Little to No Scar

The best news about cleft palates/lips today is that the surgical techniques and processes used today lead to virtually no scarring or permanent damage to their facial structure. Once your child has their surgeries (which are generally done by the time they are around 10 years old), they can live a completely normal life. 

Knowing these facts about babies with a cleft palate/lip, you can feel better prepared to provide your baby with the care and support they will need.