Pregnancy is a time of great excitement and anticipation for expecting parents. Yet hopes and dreams can become clouded by anxiety and fear when a prenatal diagnosis of a cleft is made. A couple may search the internet in hopes of finding out more about the condition only to find that there is such an abundance of information, from a variety of sources, that it is difficult to determine which is reliable. Sometimes misinformation may compound their fears and heartbreak. For this reason, you should inquire oif your team offers a prenatal consultation. Prenatal education with experienced team members who provide accurate and up-to-date information parents can trust.
Today's sophisticated diagnostic technologies have improved visualization of the fetal anatomy. The clarity and details of the image is determined by many factors including: the type of equipment used, baby's gestational age at the time of ultrasound, baby's position in utero, maternal body structure and the amniotic fluid. A diagnosis of cleft lip and cleft lip and alveolus can be made during routine ultrasound testing. The specifics about the cleft and palatal involvement are determined after birth.
Prenatal diagnosis provides a unique opportunity for the craniofacial surgeon and team coordinator to educate and support an expecting couple prior to the birth of their baby. The following information is typically reviewed to help parents navigate their way through the early weeks after birth:
Overview of an ASCFS Craniofacial Team
Benefits of team care
Role of each specialist (team roster provided)
The etiology of cleft lip and palate (before and after surgery photographs)
The etiology and significance of craniofacial anomalies
What to expect prior to delivery
Pre-surgical orthopedics (Nasoalveolar Molding/NAM)
Feeding techniques and cleft bottles
What to expect after delivery
Review of a typical treatment plan
Support groups and online resources
When and how to contact us and to schedule a team appointment
The importance of longitudinal care
Questions and answer time
Parents are given contact information for the local support group and are encouraged to www.ascfs.org, to find an ASCFS sponsored craniofacial team.