Cleft lip is the vertical tearing of the upper lip. It can be partial or reach to the base of the nose (which sometimes looks flat). Sometimes the cleft continues to the upper gums. This cleft, called the ”cleft palate”, extends from the tooth to the nasal cavity.
Cleft palate usually occur as a ”extended” cleft lip, but in some cases they may appear as a special malformation. Tearing of the palate makes it difficult to eat and swallow.
Almost every 1000th child is born with one or both malformations. Sometimes the disorder is inherited, and sometimes affects several children in the same family.
In most cases, the causes of both conditions are unknown. However, in rare cases, the condition is a consequence of disorders resulting from abnormalities of the chromosome.
If not treated, cleft lip creates mental disturbances due to appearance, and cleft palate causes heavy speech disturbances.
The operation is performed when the infant is older. By then, the treatment varies according to the degree of malformation. Meanwhile, many children do not need treatment because they eat and drink very well. In some cases, children who are fed to the bottle will need a larger opening on the bottle or will have to start eating with a teaspoon.
In severe cases of cleft palate, it will be necessary to set a special tile on a palate whenever a child has to eat. A special prosthesis can also be adjusted on the upper gums, if the gums in the cleft area are not aligned. Cleft lip operation is performed when the infant reaches a weight of 4.5 kg (about 12 weeks). Flat nose requires another, later surgery. Cleft palate operation is performed after the first year of life, before the child starts to speaks. In each operation, a child gets general anesthesia and usually stays in the hospital for about a week.
The results of the operation are usually excellent, the appearance is aesthetically improved and allows the development of normal speech. If, however, a child has a problems a speech, logopedics can help him/her.