A study conducted in 2021 by the Tata Institute of Sciences has estimated that cleft lip occurs in 1 in every 781 births in India. Cases of women are half that of men. The study also found that around 35,000 newborns are born with this problem every year. National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month in July aims to raise awareness of orofacial clefts (cleft lip and palate) and other conditions of the head and face.
Dr. Manish Nanda, Associate Director, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, Asian Hospital, Faridabad talks with TIP about the complications associated with this condition and how surgery can help it.
What are cleft lip and palate?
This is a condition that occurs when the tissues of the face and mouth of the newborn do not connect properly at the time of birth. Dr. Nanda explained, “Cleft lip and or palate is a developmental defect in newborns. It arises due to anomalies in the fetus. This includes the lips, nose, and palate. Although the cleft can also be present separately. In this situation, these three things are not found in the center.
Although the exact reason why cleft occurs is not known, researchers say that most cases of cleft lip and palate are due to environmental, nutritional, and genetic factors. In this condition, the child has difficulty in speaking, dental problems, ear infections and even hearing difficulties.
What is its solution?
Surgery is the only way out for babies born with clefts. Although surgery in private hospitals is a bit expensive, in government hospitals, surgery can be done easily. Dr. Nanda explained, “In most of the cases, the cleft lip surgery takes one and a half hours and is discharged from the hospital on the same day. The cleft palate surgery takes about three hours and the child is discharged the next day.”
The psychological effect of this condition on the person
Dr. Nanda said, “If this condition is not treated then it is common to get ear and throat infections. Repeated infections can lead to hearing loss especially when the cleft is bilateral. Apart from this, since the child's lip is open from the front, his teeth will come out. This can have serious psychological effects on the individual. Today, when people do not tolerate even a mark on the body, then such a situation can become a reason for a joke for the child in school. This can have long-term psychological effects on the mentally ill which can lead to mental health problems later in life.”
Do you have to take care even after surgery?
Dr. Nanda concluded, “After a successful surgery and full recovery, which takes about seven to 10 days, the child can lead a normal life without any special care.”