A new research has suggested that the optimal time to conduct cleft palate surgery is when a child is older.
Dr. Damir Matic, a scientist with Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario is changing the way cleft palate surgeries are performed.
He has been conducting research to determine the optimal time to close the gum tissue of cleft palate patients and found that it is best to wait until the child is older.
Timing to conduct this type of surgery has been a controversial topic with various cleft centres around the world opting for early closure at about 3-6 months of age.
However, Matic, by using research complied over the past 20 years, has shown that the best time to close the cleft at the alveolus (gum) in patients with either one or two sided clefts is at eight or nine years of age prior to canine tooth eruption.
"We close the lip at three months of age, we close the palate at one year old, but we don't touch the gum until they are eight or nine, a time that corresponds to when the adult teeth start to appear," Matic said.
Matic's study represents a significant breakthrough in cleft research involving an unprecedented sample size of 136 children.
For the study, researchers looked at a large group of children who had the cleft repair performed early, and then compared the group to a large group of children who had the repair performed when they were older.
"Cleft is the most common facial anomaly and the second most common congenital anomaly among children," Matic adds.
"Our research is clinically based in terms of looking at how we can make our repairs better in light of our current knowledge and past discoveries. Based on our data, the down-side of early closure is much worse than any potential benefits, and repairing the cleft prior to this time (7-9 years) will damage facial growth."
The research was presented at the American Cleft Palate Association (ACPA) meeting in Philadelphia last month.