Clefting of the lip and or palate is more common that you might think affecting over 7,000 new babies each year. This complex process requires a team approach for optimal results. Fortunately, Dr. Brooks is a member of two specialized cleft teams in South and Central Florida meaning you will never be too far to receive state of the art multi-disciplinary care.
Repair of the cleft lip often takes place around three months of age. If logistically feasible for your family, a device known as NAM (naso-alveolar molding) will be used before surgery to align the lip and to lengthen the nose in preparation for surgery. Once surgery is complete, special nostril splints may be used to help hold the shape of the reconstructed nostril. Surgery usually results in an overnight stay for your baby, but sometimes can be done on an outpatient basis.
Repair of the cleft palate is usually done between months 6 and 9. The primary goal of cleft palate repair is to allow your child to speak normally. Other goals are to prevent food and liquid from exiting the nose, and to allow the ear to drain normally to prevent infection. When there is a cleft in the palate, the soft palate is unable to prevent sound from exiting via the nose leading to a ‘hypernasal’ speech pattern. When severe, this can be very frustrating for a child as he or she struggles to be understood. In addition, the escape of food or liquid from the nose can be embarrassing and poorly draining ears can lead to infection and hearing loss.
As you can see, repair of cleft lip and palate is highly specialized and complex and requires a multi-disciplinary team approach. Contact Dr. Brooks today to become ‘plugged-in’ to one of the two teams to ensure your child has the best possible care.