How to prevent cleft lip and palate

Having your child diagnosed with cleft lip and palate can be a devastating time. As a parent you will question what could have been done to prevent this from happening and may be inclined to place some of the blame upon yourself. But by acting now you can work to lessen the chances of this condition affecting your child by taking the necessary steps. Nevertheless, this is a condition that is still not fully understood in terms of its causes and it can be difficult to know just what you can do to ensure your baby is healthy. But by following the simple steps and advice set out below you can take a step closer to having a healthy baby.

Prevention tips and advice

In some cases there is not much, if anything, you can do to prevent your child from developing this condition. If you have already had a child who has cleft lip and palate, then the chances of any other children you conceive having the condition increase. Nonetheless, there are still steps you can take to help prevent the condition from developing:

  1. Folic acid supplements - A shortage of folic acid in the body has been linked to children who develop cleft lip and palate. Though the evidence to support this thesis is not all that strong, it is none the less advised that you take a folic acid supplement during the first two months of pregnancy. This is the period during which the roof of the baby’s mouth and the lips develop in the womb. You should ask your physician for advice on the level of folic acid supplements you should be taking.
  2. Medication - There are several drugs and medications that have been linked to the development of cleft lip and palate. If you are currently taking medication and are thinking about having a baby then you should discuss this with your doctor. If medication is not of utmost importance then you can choose to stop taking it during the period of pregnancy. Medication that has been linked to the development of cleft lip and palate include:
  3. Benzodiazepine is a medication that is prescribed to patients suffering from anxiety and insomnia. You should discuss any other methods you can choose to undertake during pregnancy in order to stop using this medication.
  4. Anticonvulsant is a medication that is prescribed to those suffering from epilepsy. It is also prescribed to other conditions that cause seizures. You should discuss the use of this medication with your doctor if you are planning on having children.
  5. Corticosteroid is a medication that can have a negative affect during the early stages of pregnancy, during which the roof of the baby’s mouth and the lips develop. This form of medication is prescribed to patients who it is believed may have a premature baby. You will therefore need to consider the positives and negatives of using such medication.

If you are unsure about what medication will have an adverse affect upon your child then you can discuss such matters with your doctor. They will be able to advise you on the side-effects of any medication you are taking and whether or not you would be safe to stop using them during pregnancy.

Healthy living

Though it may seem an obvious thing to say, living a healthy life style before and during pregnancy can make a real difference to whether or not your child develops symptoms of cleft lip and palate. You must consider what dangerous habits you have and then make the necessary changes. Below are some tips on behavioural activities you should and should not partake in:

  1. Alcohol consumption - Women are recommended an allowance of fourteen units per week, but when pregnant this is shortened to below ten units per month. Going above this limit has been found to quadruple the chances of your child developing cleft lip and palate.
  2. Smoking - Smoking is never a healthy habit and this is the case even more so when you are pregnant. You could even use the period of pregnancy to give up the habit all together. A doctor would be able to offer advice on the necessary steps to take to quit smoking.
  3. Eat and live healthy - Generally there is nothing better than living a healthy lifestyle. Get enough exercise each week, but also take into account how far you are into your pregnancy as to how much exercise you should be doing. Also, eat healthy and try to get in those five-a-day of fruit and vegetables. It really can make a difference to the health of your child.

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