Cleft palate and cleft lip are birth defects in which the child has a split in the roof of the mouth or the lip. Before birth, we all have a cleft palate and lip. However, in children with these birth defects, the cleft fails to seal before birth. A cleft palate or lip can cause a child to suffer several developmental problems, from dental issues to difficulty with speech and language. Cleft palate and cleft lip are among the most common congenital birth defects.
Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip Symptoms and Complications
Clefts can range from very small to dramatically large. They may affect one or both of the lips and palate. Depending on the size of the cleft, it may cause problems with eating, speech, hearing, and breathing. Clefts also may cause complications with growth of the teeth and jaw.
Cleft palate and cleft lip generally are seen and diagnosed at birth, especially if the cleft is large. Some smaller clefts, or palate clefts which are submucous (covered by a smooth membrane), may be more difficult to identify. After diagnosis, children with cleft lip and cleft palate may be referred to doctors specializing in one or more areas of pediatrics. This variety of specialists may include pediatric plastic surgeons, oral surgeons, and otolaryngolists (ear, nose, and throat doctors).
Clefts usually are very treatable. Treatment should be undertaken as soon after birth as possible due to the various ways in which the defects can interfere with a child’s development. Multiple surgeries and follow-up care may be necessary. Surgery may be performed as early as 10 to 12 weeks after birth. Therapy for speech and developmental problems may continue throughout childhood. Treatment by a group of doctors and therapists specially trained to treat clefts, called a “cleft team,” often is recommended.
The long-term prognosis for children born with cleft lip and cleft palate is very good, provided they receive prompt and expert treatment and ongoing therapy. Corrective surgery may leave a scar above the mouth, but cosmetic surgery can reduce its appearance if desired. Speech therapy and additional surgeries may be necessary throughout childhood to ensure correct development of the teeth and jaw. The outcome of these treatments is generally very good.
Zoloft in Pregnancy and Cleft Palete and Cleft Lip
Use of the SSRI antidepressant drug Zoloft during pregnancy has been liked to an increased risk of cleft lip and cleft palate. The FDA has classified Zoloft as Pregnancy Category C, which means that it may injure an unborn child when taken during pregnancy. The FDA urges doctors and patients to consider the side effects risks of Zoloft before choosing to take Zoloft while pregnant.
Zoloft Lawsuits for Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip
If you or a loved on took Zoloft during pregnancy and your child suffered cleft palate or cleft lip at birth, you may be entitled to file a claim for financial compensation.
Zoloft lawsuits for birth defects damages allege that drug company Pfizer failed to warn of the birth defect side effects risks linked to use of Zoloft during pregnancy. Our experienced Zoloft attorneys help children and families affected by Zoloft cleft lip and cleft palate birth defects.
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