Impact of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on surgical wound dehiscence after cleft lip repair in infants: a systematic review protocol

Eriko Matsunaka, Shingo Ueki, Kiyoko Makimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

REVIEW QUESTION/OBJECTIVE: The objective of this systematic review is to examine the impact of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on surgical wound dehiscence after cleft lip repair in infants.

BACKGROUND: Immediately after cleft lip repair in infants, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are generally restricted. Alternative feeding methods such as spoon-feeding are recommended to avoid placing tension on the surgical wound. However, some studies have reported that alternative feeding methods are a source of stress to the infant and cause them to cry incessantly, resulting in postoperative weight loss. This suggests that these alternative feeding methods may have an unfavorable impact on surgical wound healing. However, a consensus on this topic has not been reached. The objective of this systematic review is to examine the impact of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on surgical wound dehiscence after cleft lip repair in infants.Cleft lip and/or palate is a craniofacial anomaly and one of the most common birth defects. The incidence of cleft lip and/or palate differs among races, ethnic groups and geographical areas. The prevalence of cleft lip and/or palate is highest in South American countries (Bolivia: 22.94 per 10,000 live births; Paraguay: 14.90 per 10,000 live births), followed by Asian countries (China: 13.60 per 10,000 live births; Japan: 16.04 per 10,000 live births). The prevalence is lowest in African countries (3.54 per 10,000 live births). The overall worldwide prevalence is 7.9 per 10,000 births.A cleft lip and/or a cleft palate can occur separately, although they are more likely to occur together early in pregnancy. These anomalies can be surgically repaired. Without proper treatment, patients have aesthetic and functional problems, such as feeding disorders, otitis media and speech difficulties.Patients with cleft lip and/or palate usually undergo a combination of surgical procedures, speech therapy and orthodontic treatment from infancy to young adulthood. Comprehensive treatment is provided with thoughtful consideration of the balance between intervention and growth. Cleft lip repair is carried out first in comprehensive treatment regimens. The aim of cleft lip repair is to create contrast between the lip and external nose and provide good muscular continuity across the cleft without any scarring. It is usually performed from three to six months of age. Surgery is delayed until this age to allow for growth of the lip structure and assessment of the patient for the presence of comorbidities. The ability of newborn patients with cleft lip and/or palate to drink milk is important for proper growth and development.For cleft lip and/or palate patients in the newborn developmental stage, feeding can be an area of great concern and anxiety for their parents. One study found that 32% of newborn patients with cleft lip and/or palate had poor feeding skills. Feeding difficulties lead to poor growth and development in early infancy and increase the burden of care. Therefore, it is important for new parents to learn appropriate feeding techniques. Infants with cleft lip can generally drink milk from the breast through various ways of feeding. In contrast, infants with both cleft lip and palate have difficulty sucking the nipple because of weak intraoral negative pressure, and specially designed nipples are generally used. Although such infants suckle with weakened pressure, these nipples enable them to drink milk by lightly pushing them through their lip. However, after cleft lip repair, infants with cleft lip and/or palate are forced to change their feeding methods (even infants who have managed to drink milk before the repair).Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are generally restricted immediately after cleft lip repair. Alternative feeding methods such as the use of a spoon, cup or syringe are recommended to avoid placing tension on the surgical incision. The use of a very soft nipple of sufficient size is recommended to provide a dripping milk flow, thus avoiding tension on the operative site. Some authors have recommended that patients with cleft lip and/or palate be spoon-fed for a certain period of time after cleft lip repair to avoid tension on the surgical site. However, management of the surgical site after surgical repair of cleft lip and/or palate varies among countries and healthcare centers. Little evidence-based research is available to guide healthcare staff members through the many treatment protocols for cleft lip and/or palate. No consensus about feeding methods after cleft lip repair has been reached.The above mentioned alternative feeding methods might influence the process of surgical wound healing. Minimizing crying has been considered to be the most important factor in avoiding tension on the surgical wound. In one study, however, 21.7% of infants who were given milk by a spoon on the first day after cleft lip repair resisted feeding by crying and/or moving the head laterally, while all infants fed by the nipple that had been used preoperatively accepted feeding without a major observable response. In another study, infants who were breastfed or bottle-fed after the repair were reportedly more relaxed than spoon-fed or syringe-fed infants. Changes in feeding methods seem to stress the infants and cause them to cry, which places tension on the wound.These alternative feeding methods may also have other impacts on surgical wound healing. One study reported that infants took longer to drink milk using alternative feeding methods than when using traditional feeding methods after the surgery. A systematic review suggested that alternative feeding methods were associated with less postoperative weight gain in patients than traditional feeding methods. Postoperative nutritional intake also influences wound healing. A long duration of feeding milk coupled with weight loss after the surgery suggests unnecessary energy consumption associated with the alternative feeding methods. Wound healing may consequently be inhibited or delayed.Wound healing complications after surgery include wound infection, dehiscence and proliferative scarring. Surgical wound dehiscence has been regarded as a typical complication after cleft lip and/or palate repair, followed by pyrexia. In one case series, post-surgical complications were found in 11 of 2100 infants who underwent surgical cleft lip and/or palate repair during a seven-year period. Wound dehiscence results from tissue failure rather than improper suturing technique. Therefore, alternative feeding methods are recommended to avoid placing tension on the surgical wound. However, no strong evidence has been presented to show that breastfeeding or bottle-feeding after cleft lip repair may cause surgical wound dehiscence among infants with cleft lip.Our initial search failed to find any systematic review examining the impact of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on surgical wound dehiscence after cleft lip repair using the Cochrane Library, the JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, and other bibliographic databases, including MEDLINE and CINAHL. The proposed systematic review will contribute to the understanding of this topic and identify areas for further research. If breastfeeding or bottle-feeding is recommended immediately after cleft lip repair, the patients will experience less stress and crying, placing less tension on the wound than with alternative feeding methods. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding will result in more weight gain, facilitating wound healing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalJBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)

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