Cleft lip

Boy, 1 month after the surgery to repair his c...
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Many people are unaware of how common a cleft lip or its related cleft palate are, especially as they usually are found together at the same time. These may be a variety of congenital deformity that has been caused as a result of problems with the development of a fetus’ face during the pregnancy or gestation stages. The opening or fissure where the mouth area forms does not close and leaves a huge gap. Normally the opening fuses with the face before the fetus is born, but with this cleft deformity, about one in seven hundred kids that are born will have it. You may also have heard it called a harelip, so named to compare it to the lip found on a hare.

Cleft lips can be found affecting other facial parts, including the forehead, cheeks, nose, ears and eyes. However, there are many treatments that can be undertaken as soon as the baby is born to fix the problem. How it is treated depends on what type of cleft lip has occurred and how severe it is.

When a baby has to have this treated, they are put under the care of a craniofacial or cleft palate team and monitored from the time they leave hospital and right into their early adulthood. Some kids may not have their jaws realigned until between the ages of ten and twelve because the risk of growth impeding the surgery and results is lessened as they are more likely to have most of their adult teeth. Some may adjust the jaw in the early days because speech therapy issues with later surgery can be harder. However, each case is assessed according to the health and other needs of the infant.

So, when it comes to a cleft lip, some children are born with them and some are not, but it is not a sign of any mental impediment on behalf of the child. Sometimes the development of the face does not occur properly and a child is born with the deformity. That deformity may be mild and easy to fix, or it may be severe and require years of waiting for surgery until the body has finished doing the most of its growth. Whatever happens, a baby born with this will be in the hands of doctors right until they become adults.

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