A cleft lip is a birth defect that develops during the first several weeks of development. Cleft lip is a physical split between the two sides of the lip. The gap is disfiguring and can lead to other health problems without proper treatment. Some patients will also develop cleft palate, which is a gap in the roof of the mouth.
Cleft Lip Treatment & Diagnosis
Cleft lip development occurs very early in a pregnancy and severe cases can usually be observed via ultrasound. If cleft lip is not detected in an ultrasound, it will be diagnosed immediately upon birth. It is a very obvious physical abnormality that is detected right away.
Treatment for cleft lip will usually include one to two surgeries, depending on the severity of the gap in the lip. The first surgery will likely be performed within 3 months of birth. Multiple surgeries might be required in children that have other defects such as cleft palate. In severe cases, surgeries to fix the appearance might be performed later in life when the facial features have developed.
What to Expect
In many cases, children diagnosed with cleft lip and/or cleft palate will be treated by a team of doctors, due to the many complications associated with the defects. Some of the healthcare providers involved in treatment might include:
- Plastic surgeon — to perform the necessary surgeries on the lip and mouth
- Oral surgeon — to repair the upper jaw and gum, if necessary
- Otolaryngologist — to help with hearing problems
- Orthodontist — to straighten teeth
- Dentist — perform dental care
- Prosthodontist — to help with eating and speaking via artificial teeth and dental appliances
- Speech pathologist — to help with speech and feeding complications
- Speech therapist — improve speech
- Audiologist — help with hearing
- Psychologist — offer support for the infant and his/her family
Treatment plans will vary from patient to patient, depending on the unique complications. In most cases, patients will eventually achieve normal eating and speech as well as physical appearance.
Resources for Parents
When a child is born with a birth defect, it can be devastating for the parents. The treatment process can be long and emotional. If your child is born with cleft lip, you should know your rights. If you took Topamax® or another medication during the first trimester of your pregnancy, you might be eligible for financial compensation.
To find out more information, contact a Topamax® cleft lip lawyer today. We would like to help you and your family as you go through the maze of medical care and treatments. Your child deserves the best in care.