A cleft happens when the tissues of the face fail to fuse during gestation. It is a repairable birth defect. Cleft lip and palate are the most common facial malformation in newborns. It affects about one in 700 babies.New research shows fetal magnetic resonance imaging may be more accurate at detecting cleft lip and palate than a sonogram.
The detection rates when using sonography for cleft lip and palate are somewhere between 16 percent and 93 percent. Many variables play a role in the ability to see the malformation including amniotic fluid volumes, fetus position, mother's physical characteristics, and shadows from bones.
Researchers say it is important to detect cleft lip and palate prenatally in order to screen for associated syndromes and chromosome abnormalities. If cleft lip and palate is detected, families can be prepared for the appearance of the baby at the time of the birth. The parents can also be appropriately counseled regarding the expected appearance after surgery is performed, say specialists.
MRI was also looked at as an alternative to Sonography and it was found that fetal MRI allows more detailed and conclusive prenatal evaluation of the upper lip than sonography alone. They also found soft palate defects, which are often difficult to see on sonography, were able to be detected with MRI. This is important because soft palate defects can lead to potential complications after birth.
Thus researchers say that MRI has indeed increased the vigilance in analysis of facial anatomy thereby allowing parents to receive the necessary counseling before the birth of their child.