FRIDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal diagnosis, early surgery and well-coordinated care by a team of specialists are vital for children born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, experts say.
Cleft lip and/or palate -- which occur in the first trimester of pregnancy when the roof of the mouth fails to fuse properly -- affects more than 7,000 babies born in the United States each year and is the second most common birth defect.
Prenatal ultrasounds can detect the majority of cases. As soon as a diagnosis is made, doctors should counsel parents in order to give them time to prepare emotionally before the birth of the baby, experts say. Doctors and parents also need to develop a treatment plan, according to Dr. Richard Redett, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon and co-director of the Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
He noted that research has shown that early surgery helps ensure proper speech development. Surgery is most effective if done before the baby is one year old.
Post-surgical treatment should include ear-nose-throat specialists, speech therapists, pediatric orthodontists and psychologists, Redett said.
He and his colleagues offered some tips to prevent cleft lip/palate:
The March of Dimes has more about cleft lip and palate.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, April 21, 2011
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