About cleft lip and palate
Cleft lip and cleft palate are the most common craniofacial anomalies and among the most common birth defects. About 1 in 600 – 800 births in the United States involves cleft lip and/or palate. These babies can have anywhere from a small line or notch in the lip, to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth. There is also commonly a misshapen, malformed nose that not only affects a child’s appearance, but also the ability to breath normally.
Additional craniofacial conditions can be associated with cleft lip and palate, including:
- Sleep apnea
- Ear disease and/or malformation (microtia)
- Dental problems
- Orthodontic problems requiring jaw surgery
- Chronic ear infections
- Speech disorders
- Airway obstruction
- Difficulty feeding and gaining weight
- Hearing loss
What causes cleft lip and palate?
Perhaps surprisingly, a cleft in the lip or the palate occurs very early in the child’s development in the womb—before the first trimester of pregnancy is complete. The lip and palate tissues usually complete their development and fuse together during the second or third month of pregnancy. In babies with cleft lip or cleft palate, this development occurs partially or not at all.
The precise causes of cleft lip and cleft palate are not fully understood. Studies indicate that some cleft lip and palate defects are caused by a combination of environmental or genetic factors, but these vary. Parents should know that unless there is a strong history of cleft lip or palate in the family, it is unlikely they will have repeat children with the deformity.
Cleft and craniofacial care team
Comprehensive cleft and craniofacial care consists of a multi-disciplinary approach. Dr Beale and his staff will coordinate your child’s care and involve, refer, and consult with each of these available specialists as necessary for each patient.
- Speech pathologist
- Pediatric neurosurgeon
- Pediatric intensivist
- Pediatric anesthesiologist
- Developmental pediatrician
- Cleft orthodontic molding technician
- Cleft orthodontist
- ENT specialist
- Social worker
Depending on the child’s needs and specific diagnosis, these procedures or surgeries may be part of your child’s care plan:
- Nasoalveolar molding (a pre-surgery shaping device, similar to a retainer)
- Cleft lip repair
- Cleft nose repair
- Cleft palate repair (can be one or two stages)
- Neonatal jaw distraction
- Cleft orthodontics
- Bone grafting for adult tooth eruption
- Jaw advancement surgery
- Corrective rhinoplasty
For more information, please refer to the Cleft Palate Foundation’s Website: www.cleftline.org
Why choose Dr Beale for pediatric plastic surgery?
While Dr Beale’s priority is an optimal surgical outcome, he is also focused on ensuring his patients are as comfortable as possible throughout their journey—and this particularly applies to children. As a father himself, he understands the trepidation a child can face when entering any sort of medical facility. He and his staff offset that trepidation and will help your child feel at ease throughout the process.
Ultimately, Dr Beale’s goal is to deliver beautiful results for your child. While all plastic surgery procedures are performed to correct something that is perceived to be negative, he is sensitive to the effect a cleft lip or palate can have upon a child’s life. If you would like to explore your child’s options, please call our office to schedule a private consultation in his Dallas office.
As a dad to my three kids, I understand the importance of earning the trust of patients and their parents, and I aim to create a relationship based on compassionate care and expert technical skill. Patient safety and well-being is a priority, and I will never perform any procedure on a child unless it is in his or her best interest.