CLEFT LIP AND PALATE: A CURABLE DISABILITY
What are cleft palate and cleft lip?
Cleft lip and palate are two different conditions, but they often occur together. A cleft lip is a split in the upper lip that can extend to the nose. A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth that can extend from the front of the mouth to the back of the throat.
Why do they occur?
These conditions occur when the tissues that form the face and mouth do not fuse properly during foetal development. The exact cause of cleft lip and palate is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Factors like smoking, alcohol and few drugs consumed during the pregnancy period.
What is the impact of this condition?
Cleft lip and palate can have a significant impact on a child’s life. Children with cleft lip and palate may have difficulty in eating, speaking and breathing. They may also have an increased risk of ear infections and hearing loss. In addition, children with cleft lip and palate experience social and emotional difficulties due to their appearance.
What is the treatment for both conditions?
Both cleft lip and palate can be treated by surgery. Depending on the severity of the condition, multiple surgeries are required.
- Cleft lip – only lip corrective surgery done at 3-6 months of age.
- Cleft palate only – surgery should at 9-12 months of age.
- Combined cleft lip and cleft palate- staged surgeries.
- Alveolar bone grafting-7 to 8 years age.
- Nose deformity- at 14-16 years age.
In addition to surgery, children with cleft lip and palate will require further supportive therapies like dental care, speech therapy and hearing tests.
Myths and Misconceptions
Cleft lip and palate are caused by a mother’s genetics or lifestyle: False.
Both father’s and mother’s genetics is responsible for the risk of cleft lip and palate.
Children with cleft lip and palate are intellectually disabled: False.
There is no correlation between cleft lip and palate and intellectual disability.
Cleft lip and palate cannot be treated: False.
They can be treated with surgery, speech therapy, and other medical interventions.
Can the child be normal?
Yes, with proper treatment and care, children born with cleft lip and palate can live normal, healthy lives. Appearances can be near normal depending on the type of cleft and the surgeries performed. Results depend on the team of plastic surgeons and speech therapist. If the parents approach the right team at the right age, child can have healthy and normal life.
We, at Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, are an expert team of plastic surgeons, speech therapist and maxillofacial surgeons, who can help your child, lead a normal and happy life.
Consultant Plastic Surgeon