A cleft lip and palate is formed when there is failure of proper fusion of the palate or upper lip, when the baby is developing in the womb. In many cases, no exact causes can be stated for this condition. It may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
It is indicated by research that the genes that are inherited from parents are responsible for cleft lip and palate developing in a child. Various genes are said to be responsible for this. In a few cases, a family history of clefts is seen.
The chances of cleft lip or palate are increased owing to various environmental risk factors. Some of them are listed below:
Lack of folic acid during pregnancy
Daily supplement of folic acid has to be taken by women during the initial 4 months of pregnancy. With folic acid, the possibility of birth defects is reduced to a considerable extent. As per one study, it was found that the risk of this condition increases 4 times if folic acid is not consumed in the initial 3 months of pregnancy.
If a mother smokes during pregnancy, the chances of her baby being born with this condition are increased to a great extent. No one is fully aware though, of the risks of passive smoking. Smoking should be avoided as it would help.
Consumption of alcohol
A link between the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and the baby developing cleft lip and palate has been shown by many studies. Avoiding consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is definitely important.
Nutrition and obesity
The risk of this condition increases to a very great extent if mothers are obese. Proper nutrition is extremely essential as, with poor nutrition, the risk is increased to a considerable extent.
Medications consumed during pregnancy
The risk of cleft lip and palate is increased owing to the medications that are taken during pregnancy. These include:
- Methotrexate- This is a medicine which is used for treatment of arthritis, psoriasis and cancer
- Isotretinoin- This is a medicine which is used for the treatment of acne
The GP should be consulted before taking any kind of medication during the pregnancy.
Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Is an Effective Option
NAM or Nasal Alveolar Molding is the 1st mode of treatment which is used for this condition. This is started typically within 7 to 14 days after the baby is born. The process is a challenging and a long one. 3 objectives are fulfilled with this:
- The cleft sections of the upper jaw are realigned.
- The edges of the cleft are brought closer together for fixing the problem accurately.
- The nasal defect is rectified for enabling a normal looking nose.