Various devices and techniques have been proposed to reduce feeding difficulties experienced by infants with cleft palate. The aim of this review is to identify and assess the scope and quality of evidence for these interventions.
A systematic review of published literature evaluating feeding interventions for infants with cleft palate (with or without cleft lip) from database inception to 2021 was conducted using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews guidelines. Quality appraisal of included studies was conducted using a methodological index for nonrandomized studies, Cochrane, or a measurement tool to assess systematic reviews 2 instruments, according to study type.
Fourteen studies met inclusion criteria, with the majority (71%) of studies consisting of second-level evidence. Included interventions were specialty bottles (21%), alternative feeding delivery systems (14%), obturators (14%), and educational programs (14%). Specialty bottles and palatal obturators did not appear to offer any substantial growth advantages compared to traditional bottles or no intervention, respectively. Designated education programs for the mothers of infants with clefts had a positive impact on infant growth.
Overall evidence evaluating feeding interventions for infants with cleft palate was moderate to low. While it does not appear that specialized feeding delivery systems or palatal obturators significantly improve growth in infants with clefts compared to children without cleft conditions, education programs do appear to be beneficial.