Posted on March 14th, 2007
- Can a cleft be repaired?
- When will the corrective surgery be carried out?
- For how long will my child remain under the care of the cleft team?
- Why was my child born with a cleft?
- If I have more children, what is the likelihood that they too will have a cleft?
- What am I feeling?
- How will I cope?
- How will my child cope with teasing?
- How will my other children react to the new cleft baby?
- Will my child’s speech be affected?
- Will my child’s hearing be affected?
- Are there implications for my child’s intellectual development and schooling?
- What are the consequences for my child’s teeth growth and development?
- Can I breast feed my baby? What are the feeding implications for my baby?
- Can my baby use a dummy (’soother’)?
- I was born with a cleft. What is the likelihood that my baby will be born with a cleft?
- Will my child have other health problems?
- Is there an Information Pack available?
SEE ALSO Back to School
Can a cleft be repaired?
A cleft lip and/or palate are birth defects which can be addressed with corrective surgery. So don’t despair, your child’s appearance will be greatly improved and their quality of life can be as normal as any child not born with the condition.
When will the corrective surgery be carried out?
The surgical repair of the cleft lip is carried out at about three to four months of age. The whole emphasis in repairing the lip is on the muscle repair in order to mould the distorted premaxilla back into its proper position. Lip surgery can be revised at a later stage to improve the cosmetic appearance.
The repair of the palate is carried out between six and twelve months of age, usually around the tenth month. There are various types of operations and different techniques, but you need not be too concerned about the types or timing.
Often in the repair of a bilateral cleft lip, the tip of the nose is pulled down. This problem can be remedied by surgery at an appropriate time, preferable before the child attends school.
Sometimes the child’s nose may be too broad or flat and the plastic surgeon will sometimes do a corrective rhinoplasty in the teenage years. So too any final refinements to the lip may be carried out at this stage.
For how long will my child remain under the care of the cleft team?
The plastic surgeon begins the repair work at about three months of age and your child is not finally discharged until he or she reaches the age of 18-20 years. This lengthy period of care makes it all the more necessary that they are under the combined care of a co-ordinated team.
Why was my child born with a cleft?
The cause or causes of your child being born with a cleft are not clearly understood. Research is being undertaken at home and abroad to identify the cause(s). It is known that it occurs in the early weeks of pregnancy when the face is being formed. In some cases there is a hereditary factor but it can appear in a family with no known history of the defect. It occurs in approximately 1 in every 700 babies born in Ireland.
If I have more children, what is the likelihood that they too will have a cleft?
There is a 5% chance of your next baby having a cleft - that is a 1 in 20 chance (remember, the incidence was originally 1 in 700). If another child is born with a cleft, the likelihood increases further.
What am I feeling?
The birth of a child with a cleft represents a crisis for parents. You may experience a range of emotions such as shock, numbness, and grief. It takes time for the reality of the situation to sink in. You may feel that life has dealt you a very hard blow and you may feel angry for this reason. But grief and sorrow will be the most intense emotions. The joy of your child’s birth may be soon forgotten , and it will be important that you hold on to the positive aspects of your child’s birth.
You may also fear that your child’s condition is the worst that it could possibly be, and this comes from a fear of the unknown. Guilt may hit you, a sense that it is somehow your fault, that there is some hereditary factor involved, or some extra care you could have taken during the pregnancy.
Resolution will be the last stage you will reach, when you come to accept the reality and are ready to face the future. Remember, you will not be alone in feeling such a range of emotions or indeed not knowing exactly how you feel.
How will I cope?
Try not to feel alone. You and your partner should support one another, and avail of the support and advice of the cleft team and others where given. Remember, the Cleft Lip & Palate Association exists for these very reasons.
Take one day at a time. Thinking too far ahead can immobilize you. Learn about the condition, familiarize yourself with the terminology. Don’t let your health, emotional and physical, suffer as a result of the stress you may feel under. Express your emotions and don’t bottle it all up. You can gain strength from so doing and not feel it to be a sign of weakness.
Finally, and most importantly, how your child comes to feel about themselves, their self-esteem, and emotional and mental well-being will stem from you and your positive attitude and outlook. You are the first and greatest influence on your child’s life, and that is the greatest responsibility you will ever carry.
Comments are closed.