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Cleft Lip and Palate – Treatment, Prevention and Home Remedies for Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and Cleft palate is a birth defect in the roof of the mouth, or palate. A cleft lip creates an opening in the upper lip between the nose and the mouth whereas a cleft palate occurs when the roof of the mouth does not form completely. These changes occur when the lip elements fail to fuse during fetal development. Over 5,000 infants are born each year in the United States with cleft in the lip or palate. Studies reveal the cause of this disorder as a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Treatment
The treatment for an infant with cleft lip and palate include:

Medical Therapy
The medical therapy is done in neonatal care unit. The 3 major concerns are:

  1. Risk of aspiration because of the connection between the oral and the mouth cavities.
  2. Airway obstruction.
  3. Nasal regurgitation or difficulties with feeding of a child with cleft lip and palate.

A pediatrician or neonatologist are the people who take care of the new born baby with cleft lip and palate.

Surgical Intervention
Closing the cleft lip is the major concern that tremendously changes the future development of a child. The most common surgical procedures include:

  • Repair of the cleft lip.
  • Le-Fort 1 maxillary osteotomy.
  • Revision of the cleft lip.
  • Closure of palatial fistulae.
  • Lip scar revision.
  • Cleft lip rhinoplasty and septoplasty.
  • Columellar lengthening.
  • Pharyngoplasty.
  • Pharyngeal flap.
  • Palatal lengthening.
  • Closure and bone grafting of the alveolar cleft.
  • Repair of the cleft palate.

Feeding an infant with cleft
Here are some tips for a parent to feed an infant with cleft lip and palate:

  • Breastfeeding an infant with a cleft: A mother should apply pressure to the areola with her fingers to protrude her nipple and then hold the infant in a semi-upright, straddle or football position. She should hold the breast by holding it between her thumb and middle finger, but make sure that the infant’s lower lip is turned out and the tongue is below the nipple.
  • Feeding breast milk with a bottle: A mother can extract breast milk and then she can feed the baby with a bottle.
  • Feeding milk formula with a bottle: The milk formula should be selected by a pediatrician or feeding specialist. The bottle should squeezed and released, but do not squeeze it continually. Use a soft nipple that is crosscut to prevent choking. There are many bottles made specially for infants with cleft lip.

Note:

  • Give feeds to the baby in a seated or upright position to prevent milk leaking to the nose which may cause the infant to choke.
  • A mother should stop feeding and allow the infant to cough or sneeze for a few seconds when there is a nasal regurgitation.

How can we Prevent Cleft lip and Palate
This disorder is a birth defect, but by following the tips and advice, you can have a healthy baby. These are the following steps:

  • Folic acid supplements: Folic acid deficiency has been linked to develop cleft lip and palate. Take advice from your doctor and take these supplements during the first two months of the pregnancy as this is the period when the roof of the baby’s mouth and the lips develop in the womb.
  • Medication: There are several drugs that can cause congenital defects in the new born. Discuss with your doctor when you are thinking of having a baby.
  • Benzodiazepine: This is also a drug that may cause birth defects in an infant if the mother was in this drug during pregnancy.
  • Alcohol consumption: Women are advised to limit the drinking of alcohol as it can harm her baby.
  • Smoking: Stop smoking during pregnancy and a doctor can help you to quit smoking.
  • Eat and Live Healthy: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and do mild exercises because there is nothing better than living a healthy lifestyle and having a stress-free pregnancy.
  • Genetic Counseling: A doctor can advise you on genetic testing and blood and DNA samples can be tested for genetic disorders.

Coping and support
When you have a baby with cleft lip and palate, keep these coping tips in mind:

  • Don’t blame yourself because there was nothing you could do to prevent this defect.
  • Find social support organizations for financial resources and education.
  • Focus on your child as a person.
  • Help Your child to make decisions as this improves the confidence levels.
  • Communicate with your child because if issues like teasing or self-esteem rises at school, then make your child feel safe to talk to you about these issues.

Home Remedies for Cleft lip
Though there are no natural remedies for an infant suffering from this disorder, but avoid certain infections that can worsen the condition of the neonate. They include:

  • Cough and colds are the common infections that occur in an infant with cleft lip.
  • If an infant is given formula feeds, stop the feeds and start breast feeding as this gives immunity to the child to fight infections.
  • If a baby is in the weaning period, then give soft diet.
  • Give lots of fresh juices of fruits and vegetables.
  • Make the child feel as normal and acceptable even with a defect.

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