Palate is a condition when
there is a cleft or a gap
in the palate or the hard
part of the roof of your mouth.
Cleft Palate is sometimes
associated with eye abnormalities
either on the same or on the
does a baby get Cleft Palate?
Cleft Palate is a birth defect which means
they occur when the baby is developing inside
the mother's womb. The cause for a baby
to have Cleft Palate might be genetic (hereditary).
Cleft Palate has also been associated with
smoking or use of certain medications during
pregnancy however, all these associations
are inconclusive. Cleft Palate is seen more
commonly on males vs. females.
are the types of Cleft Palate?
Cleft Palate can be 1) Unilateral Cleft
Palate - the gap in the palate on one side
of the midline, 2) Bilateral Cleft Palate
- the gap in the palate is on both the sides
of the midline. Cleft Palate can be 1) Complete
Cleft Palate - the gap extends all the way
from the upper lip to the floor of the nostril,
2) Incomplete Cleft Palate - the gap does
not separate the palatal structures all
the way. There is another type of Cleft
Palate known as sub-mucous cleft or Invisible
Cleft Palate. In this type of Cleft Palate,
there is a gap in the soft palate which
cannot be seen. Invisible Cleft Palate is
much uncommon however, it occurs when the
surface tissues are joined together but
the underlying musculature is not completely
joined, causing a gap which is not visible.This
type of invisible Cleft Palate causes a
delay in speech and sometimes is the only
apparent symptom that might lead to further
investigation of this problem.
are the problems associated with Cleft Palate?
May develop nodules on the vocal
cord due to vocal abuse
Delayed speech and language development
Difficulty with articulation and
proper pronunciation of words
will my child's 'Health Professionals Team'
It is important that several health professionals
with different expertise are involved to
assess and monitor your child's progress
as he / she grows up. The team of health
professional for surgical correction and
rehabilitation of a child with Cleft Palate
- May be the first one to examine and
diagnose the problem of Cleft Palate
and make appropriate referrals
Dietitian - Provides guidelines on proper
feeding during infancy, weight gain
and preparation for Cleft Palate surgery
Plastic or Reconstructive Surgeon -
To perform surgical repair of Cleft
Speech Pathologist - To work on the
speech and language development of your
Audiologist - To monitor hearing which
may be impaired due to middle ear infection
Ear, Nose and Throat (Otorhinolaryngologist)
specialist - Treats middle ear infections
Oral Surgeon - Performs jaw alignment
and tooth extractions
Dentist and Orthodontist - For repositioning
of teeth and designing of prosthetic
devices like braces and bridges.
Genetic Counselor - Counsels and provides
information on genetic background of
How do I prepare
my child for Cleft Palate surgery?
Cleft Palate is usually repaired between
12 - 18 months of age. Your child will be
hospitalized the night before for pre-operative
assessment like blood and urine testing,
and a chest x-ray. You will be instructed
not to feed anything to your child for at
least 10 hours before the Cleft Palate operation.
Also make sure that your child does not
have any viral infections like flu, cough,
cold or diarrhea.
does the procedure for the repair of Cleft
Depending on the extent of the gap in the
roof of the mouth, Cleft Palate repair operation
will be done accordingly. Your surgeon will
make an incision on both sides of the cleft,
moving the tissue from the sides to the
midline thus closing the gap in the roof
of the mouth. This attempt at restoration
of normal anatomy of mouth would hopefully
enable your child to eat and speak properly
over time. The operation to repair Cleft
Palate may take 2 - 3 hours and your child
will be required to stay in the hospital
for 3 - 4 days.
is the recovery period like following Cleft
Your child will feel some pain and soreness
following the Cleft Palate surgery. Your
child will be irritable and may require
some medication to calm down and relieve
the pain and soreness which commonly occurs
following the operation to repair Cleft
Palate. Your surgeon might prescribe antibiotics
to minimize the chances of infection while
in the hospital. Your surgeon will provide
you with instructions on feeding and general
care of the baby during the crucial couple
of days after surgery for Cleft Palate.
It is very important that you follow these
instructions closely so that your child's
palate heals properly. Your child may have
to be put in restraints to make sure he
/ she does not rub the area with stitches.
Your child will be hospitalized for about
4 - 5 days, the stitches need not be opened
as they dissolve on it's own after a few
is the outcome of Cleft Palate surgery?
The outcome of surgical repair of Cleft
Palate is quite satisfactory. Most commonly
the defect can be corrected in a single
operation, seldom a second operation is
required. If the cleft is extensive and
cannot be closed in one surgery, then the
operation is performed in two stages. There
will not be a visible scar however, people
who had Cleft Palate which was repaired
can be identified by the nasal quality of
Benefits of surgical repair of Cleft
team approach to correcting Cleft Palate
and other problems associated with it has
several fold benefits. Cleft Palate is usually
accompanied by Cleft Lip. The repair operation
to correct these problems restores symmetry
or balance of facial features to a great
extent but not completely. The surgeons
have mastered sophisticated techniques that
has improved the success rate of surgery
for Cleft Palate many fold. If the surgery
to repair Cleft Palate is performed in the
first year of life, chances are that ability
to feed properly, talk, facial growth and
development of social skills will be less
problematic in the years to come.
Risks of surgical repair of Cleft
closure of the cleft - A small hole
may still be present in the roof of
the mouth after the operation for Cleft
Palate has healed. A second operation
may be required to completely repair
the Cleft Palate.
of the incision site
Allergic reaction to anesthesia
Bleeding, swelling, bruising and delayed
healing - It is normal to have some
bruising and oozing of bloody discharge
around the mouth and nose which will
subside in a week or so.
Alternatives to surgical repair
of Cleft Palate
are none, your child can either live with
the defect in the upper lip for the rest
of his / her life or undergo the plastic
surgery for Cleft Palate during the first
year of life.
to "Cosmetic Surgery"