Children born with cleft lip or cleft palate often have difficulty with feeding, which in some parts of the world can lead to malnutrition or even starvation.
Ear infections can occur, and recurring ear infections can lead to hearing loss.
Dental development can be affected.
Speech and language development can also be impaired
Children may also suffer from bullying and social isolation
What is Cleft Lip / Palate?
A cleft is a gap in the mouth that didn’t close during the early stages of pregnancy, and this kind of birth defect happens more often than you may realize. Oftentimes, a cleft can be easy to see because it’s an opening in the lip, however, it can be harder to know if someone has a cleft condition when it affects the roof of the mouth which is called the palate.
How often does cleft occur ?
It is estimated that, worldwide, a child is born every three minutes with a cleft, about one in every 500 to 750 births.
Causes of cleft ?
Many risk factors can increase the likelihood of cleft lip and cleft palate. Though all causes have yet to be identified, we know that genetics, pre-existing medical conditions, poor nutrition, and exposure to harmful environmental substances can affect the healthy development of a baby.
Living with cleft ?
Depending on the type and severity, a cleft can create serious emotional and health issues if it is not corrected, such as:
Healing a child’s cleft
Surgery is an effective solution for children and adults suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. It has been proven to improve a patient’s overall health and well-being and it helps to restore dignity and hope. In an ideal situation, a pediatrician and a plastic surgeon work with a child’s parents soon after the child’s birth to choose the best timing for surgery. Most doctors agree that a cleft lip should be repaired by the time a baby is 3 months old and that a cleft palate should be repaired between the ages of 12 and 18 months.
For many families in developing countries, early surgery may not be an option due to a lack of financial resources, qualified medical staff, and other factors.