How Is Fetal Cleft Lip & Palate Diagnosed?
The abnormalities are diagnosed through ultrasound (sonogram) when an asymmetry between the right and left nostril or a gap along the gumline appears. Evaluation of the craniofacial structure is part of the routine ultrasound examination done by many obstetricians as part of their routine prenatal care around the 20th week of pregnancy.
Preparation for the Child's Birth
After a fetus is diagnosed with cleft lip and/or palate, the hospital's surgeons and nurses counsel parents about what to expect when their baby is born and reassure them that it is correctable after birth. One of the major obstacles parents find is that their baby is not able to nurse at the breast or use regular bottles, so the staff members focus on educating parents about the differences that they need to be aware of to breastfeed or bottle feed their baby.
Parents are given special bottles designed to easily feed their baby and instructed on how to use them, so they are prepared when the baby is born. If a mother wishes to breastfeed her baby, the baby may need supplemental bottles of pumped breast milk after some feedings until the infant is bigger and stronger. Sometimes the baby will not nurse long enough to reach the milk at the end of the feeding, which is the milk that has the highest concentration of fat and is needed for the baby to gain weight. For this reason, the mother may need to pump her milk after each nursing and supplement the other feedings.
The parents return for an appointment as soon as the baby is born for detailed examination and to receive further instruction on how to feed their child, since feeding is easier to teach after the baby is present.