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Treating Cleft Lips: Making Smiles Beautiful

Every baby is beautiful. 

For parents, their child is the most beautiful face on the planet. After all, the mother leases out her womb to the tiny invader, nourishing it through nine months, experiencing pain and sickness. The father waits anxiously for all this while, just to be able to hold his little bundle of joy. Therefore, no matter what every child is beautiful.

Before the birth of a baby, parents and relatives have many anticipations and apprehensions. When a baby is born, they check for everything – from whether it has ten fingers and ten toes, to whether it shrieks with joy as soon as it enters the world. However, not in all cases do the babies arrive with perfection. Many children have several health conditions during birth, and one such condition is cleft lip, which is not something that can go unnoticed. 

What is a cleft lip?

As the name suggests, it’s a malformation of lips in a baby. It’s a physical split in the upper lip, which extends to the gums and teeth, and very often, might run all the way down to the palate, both hard and soft. The split, more often than not, reaches the base of the nose, making it very easy to be diagnosed. 

Cleft lips can be broadly classified as:

Unilateral (only on one side of the lip) and bilateral (on both sides of the lip); and Complete (extending till the nose) and incomplete (not extending till the nose).

Why does it happen?

As we know, the baby develops in different stages inside the mother’s womb. Somewhere in the middle of the fourth and seventh week of pregnancy, the baby’s lips develop. It’s interesting to note how this happens. Tissues and special cells from both sides of the head merge into the centre of the face, forming all the facial features. Sometimes, these tissues might not join completely during the formation of the palate or the lips, leading to gaps, which are known as cleft palate and cleft lip respectively. 

Causes

Even though it’s difficult to ascertain why the tissues don’t join completely, here are a couple of things that might lead to the condition.

  • Cleft lips might be genetic. This means if either of the parents were born with this condition, it could very well mean that the child could also be born with the same birth defect. In fact, cleft lips in siblings and other relatives also work as the culprit. 

  • Sometimes, the mother-to-be might be put on medications for health issues like seizures, acne, cancer or arthritis. These medications could lead to the baby forming a cleft lip. 

  • Exposure to virus or other chemicals could also lead to this condition.

  • It’s found that mothers-to-be who indulge in smoking have a higher risk of having a baby with cleft lip. 

  • Women with diabetes run a higher risk of their babies’ lips not developing properly than women without diabetes.

Risks

It’s obvious that children born with cleft lips will face a number of challenges compared to children born with normal lips. Some of them include:

  • Problems in eating: Because of the wide gap that’s there between the lips, babies often find it difficult to eat or drink. Even though there are specially designed bottles available for such babies, treatment of the cleft lip is the best solution.

  • Hearing issues: Children with cleft lip run the risk of having ear infections because of fluid accumulation in the middle ear, and if left untreated, these infections could lead to permanent hearing loss.

  • Dental troubles: Children born with cleft lips have malformed teeth. Because of that, they could face several dental issues like crooked teeth, gum issues and the like. 

  • Speech defects: Because the lips are not properly formed, children with cleft lips will find it difficult to speak. 

What to do if your child has a cleft lip?

Dealing with the fact that your baby has a cleft lip might not be easy. However, considering the fact that such children go through several issues, some of which are mentioned above, it’s best to get it treated by a reputed surgeon, so that that your child doesn’t have to go through the physical, or mental trauma of having malformed lips. 

A baby might require multiple surgeries depending on extent to which the cleft extends. The initial surgery is performed when the baby is fairly young (say about six months), to repair the palate and create a more functional one. This ensures that there is no fluid accumulation in the middle ear, and it also assists in the formation of teeth. It also fixes the lips and its appearance. However, for children who have a wide gap in the palate, there could be the need of additional surgeries that go for grafting to fill the gap in the palate and gum line. Sometimes, the children might need braces to correct the teeth formation also. 

Even though it sounds like a lot for children to take, at the hands of experienced surgeons and doctors, it need not be a nightmare. At Ankura, we treat every child with delicate hands and a warmth that can’t be found anywhere.

When this five-month old was brought to Ankura, the cleft lip looked in bad shape. 

However, post surgery, cleft lip was undetectable. 

Your baby need not experience the trauma of having a cleft lip. Trust Ankura to help your baby flash that million-dollar smile, without hesitation or pain. 

About the hospital:

Ankura Hospitals is a chain of super-specialty hospitals for women and children in the cyber city of Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.

 

 

Source: Blogs