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What Causes Cleft Palate in a Newborn Baby?

When a baby is developing in the mother’s womb, sometimes the process doesn’t go perfectly. One condition that can happen is called a cleft palate. It is when the roof of the baby’s mouth doesn’t form correctly, leaving an opening or gap. 

There is no need to panic. This situation can be cured by seeking professional and experienced orthodontics in Calgary. But before seeing an orthodontist, let’s explore what causes this and how it can affect a newborn baby in this article.

Understanding the Cleft Palate

To understand a cleft palate, picture the roof of your mouth. It’s made up of two parts: the hard palate, which is towards the front, and the soft palate, which is towards the back. In some babies, these parts don’t join together as they should, resulting in a cleft. This gap can make it difficult for the baby to eat, speak, and even breathe properly.

Why Does a Cleft Palate Happen?

Scientists and doctors have discovered several reasons why a baby might be born with a cleft palate. These reasons fall into two main categories: genetic factors and environmental factors.

1. Genetic Factors

A. Family History

If one or both parents have had a cleft palate, or if there is a family history of cleft palates, there is a higher chance the baby might be born with this condition. Genes, which are like instructions in our body, can sometimes carry the trait that causes a cleft palate.

B. Syndromes

Some babies are born with syndromes, which are groups of symptoms that happen together. These syndromes can include cleft palates. For example, Van der Woude syndrome and Pierre Robin syndrome are conditions that often involve cleft palates.

2. Environmental Factors

A. Maternal Health and Nutrition

A mother’s health during pregnancy can significantly affect the baby’s development. If the mother doesn’t get enough essential nutrients, such as folic acid, the baby might develop a cleft palate. Folic acid is crucial for the development of the baby’s face and mouth.

B. Medications

Sometimes, the medications a mother takes during pregnancy can increase the risk of a cleft palate. Certain drugs for epilepsy, acne, or cancer can affect how the baby develops.

C. Substance Use

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs during pregnancy can also lead to developmental problems, including cleft palates. These substances can interfere with the baby’s growth and development in the womb.

D. Infections and Illnesses

If the mother has certain infections or illnesses during pregnancy, it can also increase the risk. For example, rubella (German measles) can affect the baby’s development if the mother contracts it while pregnant.

How Common is Cleft Palate?

Cleft palate is one of the most common congenital disabilities. In the United States, about 1 in every 1,700 babies is born with a cleft palate. It can occur alone or alongside another condition called a cleft lip, where there is a split in the upper lip.

Diagnosing and Treating Cleft Palate

Most cleft palates are diagnosed after the baby is born. However, sometimes, they can be detected before birth with an ultrasound. Once diagnosed, there are several ways to treat and manage a cleft palate.

Surgery: The main treatment for a cleft palate is surgery. It usually happens when the baby is between 6 and 18 months old. Surgeons will close the gap in the roof of the mouth, helping the baby to eat, speak, and hear more normally.

Therapies: Babies with cleft palates often need additional help from specialists like speech therapists. These professionals help the child learn to speak clearly. Some children might also need dental or orthodontic care to address issues with their teeth.

Supportive Care: It’s essential for families to get support from healthcare providers, community groups, and other families who have experienced similar situations. This support can be emotional, informational, and sometimes financial.

Living with a Cleft Palate

Most children born with a cleft palate go on to lead healthy, happy lives. Early intervention and proper medical care can make a significant difference. Children may face challenges, but with support from family, friends, and medical professionals, they can overcome these obstacles.

Closing Notes

A cleft palate happens when the roof of a baby’s mouth doesn’t form correctly. It’s caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. While it can be challenging, modern medicine offers excellent treatment options to help children with cleft palates live full, active lives.

Understanding the causes and treatments can help us at Totally Orthodontics support these children and their families. So if you are looking for cleft lip and palate orthodontics near you, our dental practice is the place you should be at next.