Cleft Lip and Palate are facial birth defects.

A cleft lip affects the upperlip, ranging from a notch to a complete fissure extending into the nose. A cleftpalate affects the roof of the mouth, with a groove that may extend through thedental arch. These abnormalities may occur separately or together. Cleft lip andpalate are facial malformations that may occur separately or together. They mayalso occur in association with other syndromes or birth defects.

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The separationof the lip can vary from a small notch to a complete separation extending intothe nose. The cause of these malformations may be mutant genes or teratogens.Teratogen’s are agent that cause abnormalities in a developing fetus such ascertain viruses or chemicals. As well as being disfiguring, these abnormalitiescan cause feeding difficulties and problems with speech development. Riskfactors are a family history of cleft lip or palate and presence of anotherbirth defect. The incidence of cleft lip and palate varies with different races;approximately 1 out of 1,000 Caucasians are affected.

The incidence of cleftpalate alone is 1 out of 2,500 people, not that rare of an occurrence. There isno proven way to prevent this defect. Physical examination of the mouth, noseand palate confirms the presence of cleft lip or cleft palate.

Diagnostictesting may be performed to determine or rule out the presence of otherabnormalities. Symptoms of this defect include: separation of the lip,separation of the palate, separation of both, and/or varying amounts of nasaldistortion. Treatment of cleft lip and palate involves several specialtiesincluding plastic surgeons, orthodontics, speech therapists and others.Treatment may extend over a period of several years.

Surgery to close the cleftlip usually performed at 1 or 2 months of age. Later surgery may be needed ifthere is extensive nasal involvement. Since cleft palate is usually diagnosed atbirth, it can usually be closed within the first year of life to enhance normalspeech development.

Until surgery, a prosthetic device is often fitted over thepalate for feeding. Although treatment may extend over several years and requireseveral surgeries depending upon the involvement, most children affected by thisdisorder can achieve normal appearance, speech, and eating and will gain socialconfidence not worrying about kids teasing them. For some, speech problems maycontinue. Some complications that may occur are recurrent ear infections,hearing loss, dental cavities, and displaced teeth speech defects.

Although itis considered an “abnormality”, it shouldn’t be thought of as adisability. But the effects and problems that may occur because of this defectshould not be ignored or neglected, such as speech impairment. Parents of thechild need not feel responsible for their child’s disorder, there is no knownpreventive measure. Some parents decide that their child’s disorder does notneed 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 crueland not very accepting of those that are “different” from themajority.Bibliography1.

Better Homes and Gardens Family Medical Guide 2.Funk and WangallsEncyclopedia 3.Microsoft Encarta98 Encyclopedia 4.

www.healthhelp.com 5.Cleft Lipand Palate Parent’s Guide, By J.R. ThompkinsHealth Care