We established the frequency of failure to thrive (FTT) in children undergoing primary cleft procedures by using growth charts and standard-deviation scores. Initially, 147 babies with cleft lip and/or palate undergoing 186 primary lip-and-palate repairs were studied between 1993 and 1996. Rates of FTT were categorised according to cleft type. There was an increasing rate of FTT from 32% for unilateral cleft lip and palate to 38% for bilateral cleft lip and palate to 49% for cleft palate. There was a high incidence of FTT in palatal clefts, especially if these were associated with a syndrome or anomaly (P= 0.001). The incidence of FTT with the Pierre Robin sequence was 100%. In view of the high rates of FTT, two changes were instituted: a feeding-support nurse was appointed to supervise and monitor patients at risk and all patients with the Pierre Robin sequence had supervised airway management. Thereafter, the incidence of FTT was prospectively studied in 68 babies undergoing 84 primary procedures between 1997 and 1999. There was a decrease in the incidence of FTT in comparison with the earlier cohort (9% for unilateral cleft lip and palate, 20% for bilateral cleft lip and palate, 26% for cleft palate). There was a significant decrease in the incidence of FTT in the group with the Pierre Robin sequence, from 100% to 40%. As a result of the provision of a feeding-support nurse and airway management of patients with the Pierre Robin sequence, the incidence of FTT was reduced and the audit loop closed.
Copyright 2001 The British Association of Plastic Surgeons.