KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When children are born with a cleft lip and palate, parents instantly know surgeries and potential cosmetic scarring will be part of their child’s life. But one procedure is making the lasting effects of a cleft palate and lip a little less traumatic in the long run.
Christy Dreiling was overjoyed to learn that she and her husband would be welcoming a baby girl into their lives. Little Quinn would be Christy’s first child, but when she found out Quinn would have a cleft lip and palate, joy turned to concern.
“As a mom, this is where I get emotional because it`s hard enough in this world, being a girl,” she told FOX 4’s Abby Eden.
But hope came in the form of learning about a procedure called nasoalveolar molding – or NAM. An orthodontist makes a plate that’s inserted into the baby’s mouth, he or she wears it all day, and each week it’s updated to continue changing the baby’s mouth and face while the baby’s cartilage is still malleable.
“It helps decrease the chance to have revisions in the future,” Dr. Heather Hendricks of Children’s Mercy Hospital explained.
Dr. Hendricks is a cleft and craniofacial orthodontist who specializes in NAM.
“The most important thing of NAM is the result of the nose; I`m able to mold and lift the nasal tip, the nasal cartilage in a way that it`ll be a long term result. We`re able to fabricate a nasal stint that goes inside of the nose, and it changes the shape of the cartilage, and it`s long lasting,” she said.
NAM eliminates the need for one surgery, another doctor telling FOX 4 that often a preliminary surgery is done with the child is about 3 months old. NAM eliminates that surgery, but the process is intense.
“We started that process at six weeks. It was not easy, I`m not going to sit here and say it was easy. That first week was especially hard,” the mom said.
But the result, so far, is what you see with Quinn.
“It`s very comforting to know that she may have one less surgery, or less teasing or bullying,” Christy said. Any mom worries about that- cleft or no cleft.”
And while Quinn has at least one more procedure ahead of her, her parents are relieved that the NAM procedure worked well for their little girl.