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What is cleft palate defect in children?

Q: My son has a cleft palate He is five years old and the major part of operation is completed but I have some related questions - 1)What are the causes of cleft palate?; 2) Is it a genetic problem?; 3) How can we predict at an early stage (before birth) if the developing baby has this problem?; 4) Where in India is front line surgery available for this?

A:There is no known cause for this defect. It is not a genetic disorder in the true sense, but if one child is affected, then the possibility of the subsequent child having the defect is slightly higher than in the normal population. There is no way to know about the defect before the baby is born. However, if there is associated cleft lip, it may be possible to identify it by a good pre-natal ultrasound scan. There are several centres that do this work. In all major cities there are paediatric surgeons and plastic surgeons who perform these operations.

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