Over 200,000 babies are born with a cleft lip and palette in the United States every year according to the Mayo Clinic. When the roof of cleft palettethe mouth (palette) does not fully fuse closed during fetal development, the baby is born with a split (cleft) in the palette or lip. While some cases can be submucous (the split in the palette is covered by a lining of tissue) and not immediately visible to casual observation, most cases are diagnosed right after the baby is born.

Cleft Lip and Cleft Palette Diagnosis and Treatment in Simi Valley, CA

Q: What causes a baby's palette and lip to split?

A: Technically, all palettes and lips start out cleft, and then fuse together during fetal development. When one or both do not close properly during development, the baby is born with a cleft lip and/or palette. Genetic disorders and environmental factors like poor nutrition or substance abuse during pregnancy are believed to be potential contributing factors.

Q: Is a cleft lip and cleft palette dangerous?

A: It is a fairly common condition that does not pose serious health risks to the baby. They can cause difficulty with eating and speaking, which can lead to secondary developmental and nutritional problems if left untreated. However like adults, all babies are different, and many can feed normally with some adjustments.

Q: How is the condition treated?

A: The child's primary pediatrician can offer an initial diagnosis and recommendations for further evaluation, however fixing a cleft lip and cleft palette requires a team of specialists, starting with an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, throat or "ENT" doctor). West Coast Ear Nose Throat and Head and Neck Surgery in Simi Valley helps parents of babies born with either one or both defects to navigate the process, and determine which services each baby will need.

Because the surgery involves the lip and face, a plastic surgeon is usually necessary, as well as pediatric oral surgeons and dentists, and speech pathologists and psychologists, depending on the child's individual case and specific needs. While many babies are born with both a cleft lip and palette, some are born only with a cleft lip, which has less if any impact on dental development and oral health and speech. However both should be repaired as early as possible for the baby's overall development.

Contact an ENT Doctor in Simi Valley, CA

Cleft lip and cleft palette treatment require a comprehensive team of doctors, starting with an ENT doctor. For more information, contact West Coast Ear Nose Throat at (805) 379-9646 to schedule an appointment today.