By Dr. M Rajkumar, Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery
Cleft lip is an oral and facial malformation that occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, when the foetus is still developing inside the mother’s womb. The lips are not formed properly because the tissue that is responsible for their formation does not completely develop before the baby is born. This leads to a gap in the upper lip. The gap can be small or extended to the edge of the nose. In some cases, the slit is in the middle of the lips, or on both corners of the lips.
In most cases, surgery is done to fix the cleft lip, making it possible for the child to lead a healthy and normal life.
Usually, the formation of the cleft lip is an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Chances are that babies born with this defect may have a family member with the same problem.
Some other causes include:
- Certain drugs consumed during pregnancy
- Exposure to chemicals or viruses while the foetus is still developing in the womb
- Underlying medical conditions
Children with cleft lip can have the following complications:
- Might face difficulty in feeding from the mother’s breasts
- Ear infections that might lead to loss of hearing
- Dental problems arise if the gap extends to the upper gum
- Speech problems
- Emotional, behavioural and social issues may appear in children due to differences in the way they appear, compared to other normal children