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Cleft palate: treatment and consequences

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The Cleft palate is one of the most common congenital disabilities characterized by the presence of a hole in the upper part of the mouth. When the fissure occurs on one side only, it is known as a unilateral fissure, and if it occurs on both sides, it is called a bilateral fissure. This type of malformation can occur on the soft palate, the hard palate, and even both.

The exact cause of this defect is unknown, but there is an increased risk of a child being born with a cleft palate if there is a family history of this condition. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy, smoking, using some medications, and certain viral infections can also cause a cleft palate. In this FastlyHealarticle, you can learn more about what cleft palate consists of treatment and its consequences.

Treatment of cleft palate

Children born with a cleft palate can have complications such as:

  • Inability to gain weight
  • Trouble being fed
  • Milk flow through the nose during feeding
  • Repetitive ear infections
  • Stunted growth
  • Difficulties being able to speak correctly

For this reason, it is essential to perform a corrective palate surgery in time to improve the congenital disability as much as possible, making the child grow up with a better quality of life.

Cleft palate should be treated during the baby’s first year of life to ensure speech. In some cases, it may be necessary to use a temporary prosthesis to close the palate so that the baby can feed properly until medical specialists determine the best time to operate since the cleft palate changes as the child grows. The intervention is more successful if done when the child is older. Surgery is usually done between 9 months and one year of age.

Corrective surgery for cleft palate

During the cleft palate repair, the child should receive general anesthesia so that they remain asleep during the intervention and do not experience any pain. It is common for this operation to involve moving tissue from the roof of the mouth to cover the fissure. More than one surgery will likely be needed to close the aperture entirely in many cases. Depending on the severity of the cleft, the child may need a rhinoplasty, nose operation to repair defects derived from the cleft palate.

Risks of cleft palate corrective surgery

This surgery considers the risks of any surgical intervention where general anesthesia is used:

  • Reaction to medications.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Bleeding
  • Infection.
  • Need for another surgery.

Children operated on for cleft palate are at risk of facial bones not growing correctly. It is also possible that the connection between the mouth and the nose is not regular.

After cleft palate surgery

This surgery suggests that the child stays in the hospital for 7 to 10 days to receive all the specialized care he needs. Full recovery can be observed four weeks after the intervention when the doctor will re-evaluate the child to decide whether or not a new correction is necessary.

It is imperative to keep the wound disinfected during recovery by cleaning it with antibacterial soap and water and applying ointment to hydrate the injury. Depending on the child’s age, this procedure can be very complicated since they are usually in a very restless stage, and it is difficult for them to allow themselves to be treated calmly.

The child must maintain a liquid diet from the intervention until the wound has healed completely. The use of bracelets or splints is very often recommended as a tool to prevent the child from scratching the wound. Parents must be very careful that the child does not put his hands or any object in his mouth.

Other recommendations :

  • It is essential to prevent the child from crying so that the wound does not open. If the little one is fed, hydrated, and dry, he will cry less.
  • Hugging and talking to your child can help make him less fussy.
  • The child should sleep on his side, and he should not be allowed to sleep on his stomach.
  • To feed the child, it is recommended to use a syringe. Do not use a bottle or straw.
  • If your child can eat soft foods, flan, compote, and pudding are good options.

Consequences of cleft palate

Language therapy

Every child born with this congenital disability will need speech therapy to learn to speak correctly. The child will likely have to spend many years receiving speech therapy to speak fluently and be understood by others.

Social problems

Due to the difficulty in speaking, children with a cleft palate may feel affected when they notice that their voice and way of talking are different from that of other children. Another factor that can affect the child is using wires in the mouth or dental appliances to correct tooth problems. The child may feel sad or moody to notice how often he goes to the doctor. Supporting the little one emotionally and encouraging him is essential to help him overcome this stage. When the child does not improve his mood, it is necessary to consult with the doctor.

Emotional Support

Children with a cleft palate may have different shapes in their mouth or nose and differences in the figure of their speech and the tone of their voice. This, coupled with the previous two points, can make both the child and the parent feel depressed and emotionally collapse. If that is the case, it will be essential to seek support from family, friends, and psychologists specialized in the subject to help the family cope with the situation.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cleft palate: treatment and consequences, we recommend that you enter our Genetic Disorders category.

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