One out of every 600 newborns is affected with a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate, making it the most common birth defect in America. A cleft is the separation of the tissue that makes up the lip not fully formed at the time of birth. It is thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental issues, although no one knows for sure what the root cause is. Studies have shown that many factors go into the appearance of cleft lip and cleft palate including the race, sex, severity of clefts, closeness of family members with clefts, and the extent of affected family members. Many children born with clefts can require specialized hospital care from infant to adulthood. Read on to find out some of the problems associated with clefts and what kind of treatment is available for them.
Issues with a Cleft
Children with a cleft can find it difficult to feed because the ability to suck is diminished when the shape of the palate is not normal. They could also have problems speaking later, leading to a voice that sounds more nasally. It is also more likely they will have ear infections and problems with their teeth. But worst of all the clefts could lead to low self-esteem as they try to struggle with looking different from other children.
Options vary depending on the severity of the cleft but generally, surgery begins with the first few months of life. It is recommended to repair a cleft palate within the first 18 months of a child's life. It can improve the child's ability to feed and to speak and can also be repaired to look natural with minimal amounts of scarring. With the right therapy, many children with clefts go on to lead ordinary healthy lives.
We want to help if you have a cleft palate. Please call our office today to schedule your consultation. We can discuss options to fix that cleft palate and get on your way to a happy and healthy life!
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