Cleft Lip And Palate

Cleft Lip and Palate are facial birth defects. A cleft lip affects the upper
lip, ranging from a notch to a complete fissure extending into the nose. A cleft
palate affects the roof of the mouth, with a groove that may extend through the
dental arch. These abnormalities may occur separately or together. Cleft lip and
palate are facial malformations that may occur separately or together. They may
also occur in association with other syndromes or birth defects. The separation
of the lip can vary from a small notch to a complete separation extending into
the nose. The cause of these malformations may be mutant genes or teratogens.

Teratogen's are agent that cause abnormalities in a developing fetus such as
certain viruses or chemicals. As well as being disfiguring, these abnormalities
can cause feeding difficulties and problems with speech development. Risk
factors are a family history of cleft lip or palate and presence of another
birth defect. The incidence of cleft lip and palate varies with different races;
approximately 1 out of 1,000 Caucasians are affected. The incidence of cleft
palate alone is 1 out of 2,500 people, not that rare of an occurrence. There is
no proven way to prevent this defect. Physical examination of the mouth, nose
and palate confirms the presence of cleft lip or cleft palate. Diagnostic
testing may be performed to determine or rule out the presence of other
abnormalities. Symptoms of this defect include: separation of the lip,
separation of the palate, separation of both, and/or varying amounts of nasal
distortion. Treatment of cleft lip and palate involves several specialties
including plastic surgeons, orthodontics, speech therapists and others.

Treatment may extend over a period of several years. Surgery to close the cleft
lip usually performed at 1 or 2 months of age. Later surgery may be needed if
there is extensive nasal involvement. Since cleft palate is usually diagnosed at
birth, it can usually be closed within the first year of life to enhance normal
speech development. Until surgery, a prosthetic device is often fitted over the
palate for feeding. Although treatment may extend over several years and require
several surgeries depending upon the involvement, most children affected by this
disorder can achieve normal appearance, speech, and eating and will gain social
confidence not worrying about kids teasing them. For some, speech problems may
continue. Some complications that may occur are recurrent ear infections,
hearing loss, dental cavities, and displaced teeth speech defects. Although it
is considered an "abnormality", it shouldn't be thought of as a
disability. But the effects and problems that may occur because of this defect
should not be ignored or neglected, such as speech impairment. Parents of the
child need not feel responsible for their child's disorder, there is no known
preventive measure. Some parents decide that their child's disorder does not
need to be repaired, but it would only benefit the child when they grow older,
both in a physical aspect and in the emotional aspect because the world is cruel
and not very accepting of those that are "different" from the


1.Better Homes and Gardens Family Medical Guide 2.Funk and Wangalls

Encyclopedia 3.Microsoft Encarta98 Encyclopedia 5.Cleft Lip
and Palate Parent's Guide, By J.R. Thompkins