Congenital Facial Defects (Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate)

Congenital defects may affect the muscles and bones anywhere in the body, but they occur more frequently in the head, face, spinal cord and the different parts of the lower limbs. Incomplete development of the muscles and the bones is the usual reason of the birth defects. Misalignment of the different structures also may cause abnormalities in the infant. Bone and muscle defects can impair the function of the affected body part, in addition to the abnormality in appearance. Surgical correction is required if the defect causes severe symptoms. Surgery may involve the realignment of the various structures and extensive reconstruction of the affected parts.

Cleft palate and cleft lip are the most frequently occurring congenital defect affecting the face and the head of the infant. In cleft lip, the upper lip is divided into two beneath the nose. Cleft palate results from the incomplete closure of the roof of the mouth causing the nose and the mouth to remain connected. These two defects are usually present together in the affected infants.

In addition to facial disfigurement, cleft lips impede feeding, as the infant is unable to close its mouth around the nipple to suck in the milk. Speech, as well as eating, is affected by cleft palate. The roof of the mouth can be closed by a temporary dental device to facilitate feeding. Surgical correction is the permanent solution for both cleft palate and cleft lips. A folic acid supplement taken prior to pregnancy, as well as during the first three months of pregnancy, is found to be effective in reducing the risk of these defects in the infant.

 Small lower jaw is a facial defect which interferes with breathing and feeding. This condition may be caused by either Treacher Collins syndrome or Pierre Robin syndrome, both of which cause several other abnormalities related to the face and the head. Surgical correction of the small lower jaw can help reduce the difficulties with feeding and breathing.

Watch This Video about Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate:

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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