Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Causes and Symptoms of Cleft Lips and Palates

Annie Burton, MD, trained in interventional pain management with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota. Annie Burton, MD, has had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala on several occasions over the past five years on mission trips. There, she treated children with cleft lips and palates through surgical intervention.

A defect with which some children are born, cleft palates are traced to the initial six to 10 weeks of pregnancy, when the tissues forming the nose, mouth, and upper jaw fuse and create the upper lip and mouth roof. The cleft reflects a situation where the mouth and lip do not come together properly, which leaves a physical separation or split.

The cleft lip and palate are relatively common birth defects and affect approximately one in 700 babies in the United States. The malformation makes it difficult for children to eat and drink and also increases the risk of ear infection and hearing loss. Repairing a cleft palate typically requires a series of surgeries over the first 18 years, with the first one occurring before six months of age.

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