Born with cleft lip and palate: from starting a normal life with hurdles
It is one of the most common congenital malformations in newborns: cleft lip and palate. Affected children have difficulty breathing, eating and speaking from birth. But although the cleft can often be closed surgically, the effects on the lives of those affected are often felt for a long time to come.
From proper nutrition and early intervention to school problems and discrimination, children and adults with cleft lip and palate often have to deal with a variety of difficulties. However, there are also many success stories of those affected who live normal lives despite the challenges.
This article presents some of these success stories, as well as the hurdles and difficulties that can accompany a cleft lip and palate. To show how important good medical care, but also the understanding and support of family and society are for those affected.
Although cleft lip and palate is often regarded as a “cosmetic defect is considered, it is still a serious medical issue that can greatly affect the lives of those affected. The purpose of this article is to help raise awareness of this malformation and to encourage those affected to overcome their hurdles.
What is cleft lip and palate??
A cleft lip and palate is a congenital facial deformity in which the upper part of the mouth and palate are not fully closed. The cleft can affect either just the lips, just the palate, or both. The cleft often occurs in combination with a cleft palate. In Germany, each year approx. 2.500 children born with a cleft lip and palate.
The causes of cleft lip and palate are not yet fully understood, and there are several factors that can lead to the deformity. Experts believe there is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as smoking or alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Children born with cleft lip and palate often undergo many surgeries and therapies to correct their face and normalize their speech and breathing. This can be a long process and poses many challenges for the child and his or her family. Support and help from specialized doctors, therapists and support groups can help those affected get on the road to a normal life.
- Some possible symptoms of cleft lip and palate include:
- Difficulty breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle
- Difficulty speaking or breathing
- Problems brushing teeth and eating
- Noticeable facial deformities
Statistics on the incidence of cleft lip and palate
Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common congenital facial malformations, occurring in approximately one in 500-700 newborns. In some regions of the world, such as Asia and South America, the prevalence is higher than in Europe.
The causes for the development of cleft lip and palate are not yet fully understood. Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Some studies suggest that smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as well as inadequate maternal nutrition, may increase the risk of cleft formation.
The treatment of cleft lip and palate usually requires interdisciplinary collaboration between physicians from different specialties, e.g. Orthodontists, ENT specialists and plastic surgeons. With early diagnosis and targeted treatment, most children with cleft lip and palate can lead relatively normal lives. However, they may still face health and cosmetic challenges later in life.
- Health problems: children with a cleft lip and palate have a higher risk of middle ear and respiratory infections as well as speech and hearing problems. They often need regular medical check-ups.
- Cosmetic challenges: A cleft lip and palate can affect the appearance of the face and lead to stigmatization, especially if not treated early on. Plastic surgery can help improve the appearance, but it is often a lengthy process involving multiple surgeries.
Treatment options for cleft lip and palate
Born with cleft lip and palate: From starting a normal life with hurdles
When a child is born with a cleft lip and palate, he or she requires intensive medical and therapeutic care during the first years of life. However, treatment options for this congenital deformity have improved significantly in recent years and now offer a high chance of successful treatment.
Initially, corrective surgery is the primary treatment for cleft lip and palate. This involves surgically closing the affected child’s lips, jaw and palate. As a rule, these interventions are performed in the first months and years of the child’s life. But surgical corrections can also be performed in adulthood.
In addition to surgical treatment, speech therapy is also important. This aims to support the speech and language development of the child. Physiotherapeutic measures can also help to promote the development of the child.
Not to mention the psychological stresses faced by affected children and their parents. Professional psychological support can help in many cases to cope with the difficulties and enable a normal life.
Overall, then, there are several treatment options for cleft lip and palate. Individual therapy planning, taking into account the specific needs of the child, is of great importance in order to ensure successful treatment and enable normal development.
The special challenges in everyday life with cleft lip and palate
A cleft lip and palate is a congenital deformity that can shape an affected person’s entire life. Intensive medical care is necessary from the very beginning – from surgeries to regular speech therapy and the fitting of braces. However, there are also many challenges in everyday life that can present major hurdles.
For example, speaking is often difficult and requires special attention and practice to be understood. Eating can also become a challenge, as chewing and swallowing are difficult and food can often enter the crevice. In addition, the malformation may cause hearing problems due to a tympanic membrane in the affected auricle.
In everyday school life, affected children often have to fight against prejudice and discrimination. Cleft lip and palate can also play a role in choosing a career, as not all professions are equally suitable. In addition, it can be difficult to find a suitable employer who caters to the special needs.
- The particular challenges of everyday life with cleft lip and palate can be summarized as follows:
- Difficulty speaking
- Problems with eating and swallowing
- Hearing problems due to tympanic drainage
- Experiencing prejudice and discrimination
- Difficulties in choosing a career and finding a job
Despite all of these challenges, people with cleft lip and palate can live full and happy lives. With strong support from family, friends and in support groups, they can face the special challenges and develop their strengths and abilities.
Living with a cleft lip and palate: Challenges and tips
When a child is born with a cleft lip and palate, parents can often be overwhelmed by the challenges that come with the condition. It can be difficult to find the right treatment options and to promote the child’s self-confidence. Nevertheless, there are numerous options for living a normal life.
One of the most important tasks for parents is to build a supportive network. It is important to seek support from doctors, therapists and other parents who are also familiar with the condition. You can help make the best decisions and overcome emotional challenges.
Other tips include a healthy diet to boost the immune system and prevent infections, and regular treatment from an orthodontist and speech therapist to improve speech and tooth development. It is also important that the child feels mentally and socially supported to strengthen self-confidence.
- Look for local nonprofit organizations or support groups to find assistance.
- Avoid physically demanding activities or contact with other children if the child is unwell or has an infection.
- Talk to a specialized doctor or therapist to find the best treatment options.
- Appreciate the child’s uniqueness and encourage his or her talents and interests.
It’s important to stay positive and focus on the progress your child is making. With the right support and treatment, living with cleft lip and palate can be just as successful and fulfilling as any other.