The cleft lip and palate are the most common occurring facial malformation. One in every 1600 babies born in America is affected by the cleft lip with cleft palate malformation. The malformation appears as a unilateral or a bilateral split between the upper lip, leaving a gap between the upper lip. The split can spread past the lips to the roof of the mouth in more adverse cases. The cause of the cleft lip with cleft palate malformation is genetically passed down through defective genes that are inherited at birth (Leslie et al., 2013). In cases of malformation, there is a family history of the malformation affecting older family members. Although the facial defect comes as a shocker to most parents, the condition can be rectified through a series of surgeries. If the procedure is carried out at a young age, the baby will fully recover with minimal scarring and complications. The surgery has to be carried out in a series of procedures to ensure complete recovery to ensure the process is permanent in effect. When the cleft appears in the soft palate of the upper palate, it is difficult to detect at birth but some signs and symptoms can aid in identifying the malformation; the signs include difficulty when feeding, problems with swallowing and in more extreme cases there are chances of liquids drunk or food ate coming through the nose (Arosarena, Oneida, 2007). A person’s speaking voice can also be used to identify the defect, as patients tend to have a nasal speaking voice. Chronic ear infections can also signify malformation as the ear, nasal, and mouth cavities are connected. Visible clefts that are noticed at the birth call for an arrangement with the doctor to get the condition fixed, while complications that appear much later call for a visit to the dental practitioner to get the situation remedied. The malformation is passed on genetically from parent to child; sometimes environmental factors trigger the malformation later.
The risk factors associated with the cleft lip with pallet malformation are significantly higher in families with a history of the genetic defect (Dixon et al., 2011). The defective gene is passed on through the family linage but might not necessarily affect every baby born in that family. The defective gene might remain dormant in some family members and get passed down, making them transitory carriers. Besides the genetic risk factors, exposure to certain substances during pregnancy might trigger malformation in the unborn baby. Women who drink and smoke during pregnancy expose their children to a higher chance of contracting the malformation as these substances raise the risk factor. Research has shown that diabetic women also suffer a higher risk of giving birth to babies with the condition. The final risk factor is the weight of the mother during the time of the pregnancy. If the mother is obese, there is a higher chance of the child being born with malformation.
The severity of the complication range from patient to patient based on the severity of the condition. Difficulty in feeding caused by the infection consequently leads to a drop in body weight as the baby is not able to meet the nutritional needs. This makes it a necessity for extra care to be accorded to the baby to ensure adequate feeding. In adverse cases, the condition leads to a loss of hearing in the babies if it is not rectified early. To lower the chances of a baby getting the condition, it is advisable to abstain from drugs during the pregnancy (Berkowitiz, Samuel 2006). Couples with a family history of the condition are advised to visit a genetic counselor who can aid in determining the risk of getting a baby with the condition. Prenatal vitamins before pregnancy also help in lowering the risk factors.