In most cases babies born with PRS have a cleft palate, which is caused by the tongue not properly falling into place during development. PRS babies typically have a wide U-shaped cleft, consisting of both hard and soft palates. Most cleft specialists recommend repairing the palate before speech development takes place.
The palate is surgically repaired from 7 months to 18 months of age; the cleft surgery could be done before or after this age. Your child’s plastic surgeon will make a decision based on their findings relating on the size of the baby and what other conditions are present. One key factor in repairing the cleft of a PRS baby is their weight. Intubation is sometimes difficult because of a small airway, which is another reason to wait until the child gains sufficient weight.
Some PRS babies can have a difficult time with anaesthesia as well, so the surgical team will take precautions during surgery.
A typical hospital stay for cleft palate repair would be one to three days, depending on the child and the surgeon. Make sure you discuss any issues/concerns you may have with your team. It is very important to know what their post surgery guidelines are before surgery, so you won’t have any surprises.
Recovery time after cleft repair surgery is generally 2 weeks, but this can differ from child to child. Your plastic surgeon will advise you not to allow your child to suck after the palate has been repaired as that could result in the palate tearing open.
Some tips from experienced parents on cleft palate repairs:
- Make sure you pack your child’s favourite toy or blanket so that they have something familiar with them while in hospital.
- Be sure to wear old clothes, as your little one will have some bleeding and you will want to do lots of cuddling.
- Check with the hospital on their policy for diapers, formula and other special needs items your child might have. You don’t want to pack too much, but you need to pack enough.
Remember if you are unsure of anything, ask your Cleft Team, they are there to help.