Congenital defects are mostly caused by genetic factors, and will usually result in varying degrees of anatomic and functional abnormalities in the baby. It can be as a result of a direct mutation to a gene or transmitted from a parent. Specific environmental agents may also be responsible for the development of these birth defects. These conditions normally affect between 2 – 3% of babies at birth. Apart from hereditary factors, the other (risk) factors that may increase the probability of a child developing congenital deformities include:
Conditions such as tongue-tie, clefts of soft palate, and spina bifida are some examples of congenital deformities that result in structural alterations while others like cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome largely affect functional development. That said, it is not uncommon to see individuals showing certain structural defects – occasioned by congenital conditions – have difficulties in carrying out some activities. These defects may lead to specific problems that ultimately affect the systems of the body.
Although it is not all birth defects that can be discovered during pregnancy or at birth, some diagnostic examinations can be conducted to assess the status of a foetus. Some of these include maternal blood screen, amniocentesis, ultrasound, foetal magnetic resonance imaging, foetal echocardiogram, and chorionic villus sampling. Surgical and non-surgical interventions can be recommended for the treatment and/or management of congenital defects – the choice of treatment will depend on the type and severity of a patient’s condition. Surgical procedures to correct (structural) deformities of congenital origin are normally performed by plastic surgeons.
Tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a birth defect that results in the limitation of the range of mobility of the tongue. This condition is associated with a short or tight lingual frenulum – which is a strip of tissue between the floor of the mouth and the underside of the tongue. As a result of this defect, a child may have difficulty sticking out his/her tongue, and then the problem of speech impairment lurks – letters such as ‘d’, ‘l’, ‘r’, ‘s’, ‘t’, ‘th’, and ‘z’ are particularly difficult for tongue-tied individuals to pronounce. More so, mothers nursing tongue-tied babies may face hard times feeding them even as the child might experience marked weight loss due to poor breastfeeding. Complications such as poor dental health, compromised movement of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and sleep apnoea can evolve as a result of tongue-tie – and these eventually lead to poor quality of life.
Frenuloplasty and frenotomy are commonly used surgical protocols for treating tongue-tie. In frenotomy, the plastic surgeon will make an incision on the frenulum, and then either loosen or completely get rid of it thereby freeing up the tongue – from being held down. On the other hand, frenuloplasty, which is more invasive than frenotomy, is usually recommended where there is a recurrence of tongue tie, and it entails the surgeon making series of incisions leading to the cutting and repositioning of the frenulum. These procedures can be done under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. Besides these two surgeries, the surgeon can simply sever the frenulum using non-invasive techniques such as electrocautery or carbon dioxide laser. Other interventions like speech therapy – where speech development has been significantly affected – may also be employed along with surgery to achieve credible treatment outcomes.
Cleft of the soft palate describes a condition whereby a slit or gap appears on one or both side(s) of the roof of the mouth (that is, the palate), and the tissues and muscles of the palate at the back of the mouth are normally affected. Cleft of soft palate is more prevalent among females than males, and its occurrence has been attributed to partial fusion of the mouth and the face during the stages of development. Though this defect is quite visible, the surgeon may need to carry out some examinations to ascertain that it is not associated with some other underlying conditions. Apart from the obvious split, other signs of cleft of soft palate are chronic ear infections, poor sound projection (reflected by nasal speaking voice), and swallowing difficulty. Consequent upon these, complications such as compromised dentition development, feeding difficulty, hearing loss, and inaudible sound may arise as a result of the cleft of soft palate.
The objective of the surgical protocol to correct cleft of soft palate is aimed at properly close up the gap in the soft palate. For this surgery, the surgeon will position a device in the baby’s mouth to keep it open before proceeding to direct the tissue of the palate towards the mid area of the roof of the mouth. However, there are some potential risks associated with this surgery, and this may include sleeping difficulty, snoring, bleeding, poor appetite, and excessive nasal drainage.
Craniofacial syndromes refer to a wide range of disorders that arise with the growth and development of the neck and facial bones. A specialist can diagnose these deformities by taking skull measurements, physical examination, X-ray imaging or computed tomography scans. The symptoms of craniofacial syndromes can vary based on the condition – some of which include:
Craniofacial syndromes are normally treated by surgical protocol which can be performed by a team of specialists that entail a paediatric neurosurgeon, craniofacial plastic surgeon, dentist, and some others with relevant knowledge of human anatomy. A commonly adopted procedure for treating craniofacial syndrome is craniofacial surgery which is an invasive technique that is aimed at the reconstruction of the skull. There are, however, instances where minimally invasive surgical protocol may be used along with a special helmet to ensure the proper positioning of the skull bones thus guaranteeing normal fusion.
The treatment of a congenital defect needs to be done with great care, with the appropriate resources and professionals available. These are elements we guarantee our numerous clients at The Esthetic Clinics where Dr. Debraj Shome and other highly respected cosmetic surgeons are waiting to provide you and your child nothing but excellent services. More so, while most of the attention will be focused on ensuring restoring the functional integrity of the affected organ or tissue – your concerns are very well understood – we go the extra mile in seeing to it that considerable aesthetic touch is given. The treatment of congenital defects in India is a luxury your child can afford to have with The Esthetic Clinic nearby.
Surgical procedures employed in the treatment of congenital defects are quite cost-effective and can assure excellent results. That said, let us be quick to add that the cost may vary greatly based on several factors. For one, from the discussion above, you will agree that correcting a particular congenital defect is not a one-off event – there are a whole lot of steps that may be included. In view of this, there are some of the factors that may determine the price you will be eventually for your child’s treatment:
It is possible your health insurance covers some of these costs for you, so, you can find time to speak with your provider about this
Dr. Debraj Shome is Director and Co founder of The Esthetic Clinics. He has been rated amongst the top surgeons in India by multiple agencies. The Esthetic Clinics patients include many international and national celebrities who prefer to opt for facial cosmetic surgery and facial plastic surgery in Mumbai because The Esthetic Clinics has its headquarters there.