What Is A Cleft Palate?
A cleft palate might involve only the soft palate, which is in the back of the mouth closer to the throat, or the hard palate, which is in the front of the mouth closer to the teeth, or both.
Our internationally recognized team of surgeons and cross-disciplinary specialists work together to provide top-level quality care for your child while offering the utmost concern and support for your family.
Causes of Cleft Palate
Many cases of cleft palate are inherited, though a single gene has not been identified yet. Parents with clefting have a greater chance of having a child with clefting. Similarly, if one of their children already has the anomaly, there is a greater risk of having another child with the same birth defect.
It is normal to wonder if your child’s children will inherit clefting. Your child does have a higher chance at passing clefting on to his or her children.
Cleft palate can occur in any race, but some races, such as Native Americans and Asians, have a higher rate.
Sixty percent of occurrences of cleft palates are not linked with anything that occurs during or after pregnancy. A few of the exceptions are:
- Exposure to the drug phenytoin (Dilantin) during pregnancy.
- Alcohol, anticonvulsants, and retinoic acid (vitamin A) are linked with other birth malformations that include cleft lip and palate.
- Certain nutritional deficiencies in the mother, including folic acid deficiencies, are associated with birth defects.
Symptoms of Cleft Palate
Characteristics of Cleft Palate:
- A cleft palate can only be seen when the baby's mouth is open.
- The cleft is a gap in the middle of the roof.
- Your baby might have a difficult time feeding at first and might need to use a special bottle. A feeding specialist can help you choose the best bottle for your baby and will help you learn the best feeding technique for your baby. With the correct technique, your baby can learn to feed quite well.
Treatments for Cleft Palate
Repair for cleft palate generally begins at 9 to 12 months old. Ear tubes, if needed, are placed at the same time as the palate surgery. In order to achieve the best aesthetic outcome and oral function, your child may need several surgeries.
During the planning stage of surgery, we use the most advanced 3D imaging techniques for a complete understanding of your child’s specific condition. By gathering accurate data, we can:
- Simulate the outcome of proposed surgical plans and adjust any discrepancies before surgery
- Follow and monitor your child’s condition during the post-surgical healing process
- Monitor your child’s long-term development
We will continue to follow your child’s speech, hearing, and dental development. Additional surgeries may be recommended in the future. Such procedures include pharyngeal flap, alveolar bone graft, rhinoplasty, and/or upper jaw surgery. With advanced, pre-surgical technology, such as nasoalveolar molding, your child may need fewer surgeries.
Pediatric Specialty Center
New Haven, CT 06510