Cleft lip and palate occurs when the tissue in the mouth or lip region is inadequate and whatever tissue is there does not fuse together properly. It occurs in the early months of pregnancy. The disorder is more frequent among Asian and American Indian populations than among Europeans. Black children have the least chance of developing the disorder.
Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate – Possible Causes
Researchers are of the belief that the majority of cases of these malformations result from an interaction of environmental and hereditary factors. These and other causative factors are discussed below:
Maternal smoking – If a woman smokes when she is pregnant, she increases the chances of her baby developing a cleft. To be on the safer side, the mother should also try to avoid inhaling too much of second-hand smoke. Mother consumes alcohol – Certain studies have revealed a connection between a pregnant woman’s alcohol consumption and the development of such malformations in her baby.Exposure to certain toxins or virusesFolic acid deficiency – Expectant women are expected to consume folic acid supplement daily during the first four months of gestation. Folic acid can reduce the risks of the baby developing a birth disorder. Obesity – Obesity in the mother increases the risks of the child developing cleft lip and palate. Medications consumed during the gestation period – Medications such as isotretinoin (for acne), anti-seizure drugs, and methotrexate (for arthritis, cancer and psoriasis) when taken during the gestation period may raise the risks.Hereditary Cause and Family History
Research has shown that there are chances that certain genes children acquire from their parents may make them more susceptible to getting cleft lip and palate. If neither of the parents has a cleft but their child developed one, there is a slight chance (2 to 4 percent) of a subsequent child getting the disorder. If one of the parents has a cleft, the chances of a baby of theirs having a cleft is approximately four to five percent. The risks are even higher if both parents have the malformation.
Pierre Robin Syndrome
Most of the infants affected by Pierre Robin syndrome would also have developed a cleft palate. Pierre Robin syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by an unusually small lower jaw resulting in the tongue falling backwards in the throat. The condition can lead to breathing difficulties.
Other Risk Factors
Non-balanced diet of the pregnant womanInsufficient pre-natal carePregnancy in teenage years or after the age of 35Retinoic acidSex – Females are more likely to get cleft palate without cleft lip. Boys stand a greater chance of developing a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.The above is an overview of what causes cleft lip and palate. If your baby has either or both of the conditions, get in touch with a reconstructive plastic surgery specialist at an AAAASF accredited plastic surgery center to learn about treatment options. The plastic surgeon you eventually choose for surgery is one who should be experienced in successfully treating these malformations. Do not delay treatment.