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Parents now take cleft lipped babies for free treatment at LUTH – Physician


Lagos- The Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said more parents are now bringing their children with cleft lips for treatment “since we started treating babies with clefts free of charge.’’

A Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Prof. Olugbenga Ogunlewe, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos Wednesday.

She urged more parents to take their babies with cleft and palate lips for early surgeries to prevent stigmatisation.

Ogunlewe said that cleft and palate lips occur when the mouth’s natural structures failed to develop properly before birth, causing physical deformity.

“Any baby that has cleft lip with palate or that has palate alone will always experience problems associated with it.

“Apart from the psychological effects, there is nobody that would like to go about with a defect of the mouth.

“They will not be able to eat properly and that is going to stunt their growth.

“It is going to affect their breathing and some of them would become prone to upper respiratory tract infections, and it could affect their speech if not corrected in time.

“For the lip, it can be corrected as early as two or three months old; so it is something that can be done.

“So, don’t throw your babies away; don’t hide them, they do not have any evil spirit because that is usually the belief.

“That is why people do not want to take babies with such conditions to the hospital.’’

Ogunlewe told NAN that there was no medication for cleft or palate lip, adding that the only solution was surgical.

She said although the defect does not put the patient’s life at risk, it would adversely affect them and cause stigmatisation.

“Cleft lip is a defect of the lip; we say it is congenital because the defect comes with the baby as he or she is being born.

“In a lay man’s language, instead of the lip being continuous, you find out that there is a gap on the lip and the gum, so that is referred to as cleft lip.

“It can come with the cleft of the palate – that is the roof of the mouth – in that case too, when you look inside the mouth of the patient, you will discover that there is a big hole inside the patient’s mouth.

“For the mothers of such babies, I would advise them to take the baby back to the hospital for surgery to be conducted to correct the defect.’’

Ogunlewe said some parents were yet to realise that cleft and palate lips were treatable conditions.

“But, since we started treating babies with clefts free of charge, more parents are now seeking help as against old practice of hiding or killing them.’’ (NAN)

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