A Smile So Sweet – Jacob’s Cleft Lip Story
On April 21, 2014, Leah Yeglin gave birth to her son, Jacob. Moments later, she began to sense something was wrong – and soon learned her intuition was right. A nurse informed her that Jacob had a cleft lip but, thankfully, was otherwise healthy. “It was a shock,” Yeglin remembers. “I thought that was a problem in third world countries.”
Cleft lips and palates are the result of a genetic disorder that affects only about one in every 700 children in the U.S., according to Dr. John Teichgraeber, a pediatric plastic surgeon affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Director of the Division of Pediatric Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Thanks to improvements in 3D ultrasound, Dr. Teichgraeber estimates 80 to 90 percent of cleft lip and palate cases are diagnosed in utero. While the condition is not life-threatening, it does cause complications, and “the visual problem of a cleft lip can be devastating to parents,” he explains.