Cleft Palate Surgery

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Cleft palate surgery


The repair of the cleft palate (also known as a palatoplasty) is usually done at six to eighteen months of age. Although the child may look normal from the outside, the cleft palate can be seen by looking for a separation in the roof of the child's mouth. A cleft palate should be repaired for several reasons, namely to improve speech and to re-establish the barrier between the mouth and the nasal cavity. Rarely, more than one operation may be necessary to close the cleft palate. The operation to repair the cleft palate involves making several incisions at the margins of the palate and sewing the separated portions of the palate back together in several layers; one layer making up the nasal lining, another middle layer containing the muscles of the palate, and still another layer that makes up the lining of the roof of the mouth(Chung, 485)(Christensen and P, 910).

Discussion and Analysis

The causes of cleft palate are not well understood. Studies suggest that a number of genes, as well as environmental factors, such as drugs (including several different anti-seizure drugs), infections, maternal illnesses, maternal smoking and alcohol use and, possibly, deficiency of the B vitamin folic acid may be involved. Cleft palate may occur alone or with other abnormalities that may be hidden or obvious. Up to 13 percent of babies with cleft palate have other birth defects. Some cases involve genetic syndromes, which may pose specific problems for the baby, and may have a high risk of affecting others in the family. For this reason, babies with cleft palate should be thoroughly examined by a doctor soon after birth(Little, 381)(Chung, 485).

Just as there are variations in the types of cleft lip, there are also different types of cleft palate. The palate forms the roof of the mouth, and extends from the gums just behind the lip to the uvula toward the back of the throat. Cleft palates may be unilateral or bilateral, depending on whether there is a gap on one side or both sides of the midline. The cleft may include just the front of the palate, just the back of the palate, or the entire palate

What problems does it cause having Cleft Palate?

The most immediate problem caused by a cleft palate is likely to be difficulty with feeding. Many babies with a cleft lip can breastfeed. However, some have difficulty in forming a vacuum in order to suck properly. Babies with these problems may need a special teat and bottle that allow milk to be delivered to the back of the throat where it can be swallowed. Sometimes, special dental plates can be used to seal the roof of the mouth to help the baby suckle milk better. Babies who find it difficult to feed may gain weight slowly at first, but have usually caught up by the time they are six months old.

Cleft lip and palate are facial malformations that may occur separately or together. They may also occur in association with ...
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