Cleft lip/palate cause much more than cosmetic problems

May 22, 2012

Children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial disorders face numerous medical challenges beyond appearance.

Patients can face serious airway, feeding, speech and hearing problems, as well as social and psychological challenges, Laura Swibel Rosenthal, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center and colleagues write in the June 2012 issue of Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America.

"The management of with craniofacial syndromes is complex," Rosenthal and colleagues write. "Otolaryngologic [ear-nose-throat] evaluation is of paramount importance in providing adequate care for this patient population."

About 1 in 600 babies in the United States is born with a cleft lip and/or , according to the Cleft Palate Foundation. The defect can range from a small notch in the lip to a grove that runs into the roof of the mouth. It can occur in isolation or in combination with other craniofacial birth defects. (A craniofacial disorder refers to an abnormality of the face and/or head.)

The first step in managing craniofacial patients is ensuring a safe airway. There's also a great potential for and . And patients are at increased risk of developing upper airway problems such as sinusitis, laryngitis and rhinitis.

Hearing loss is common and often progressive. Thus, in addition to receiving standard newborn hearing screening, craniofacial patients should continue to receive periodic hearing tests, Rosenthal and colleagues write.

Craniofacial patients typically require several corrective surgeries, performed in staged fashion. Surgeons and anesthesiologists should be aware of the potential challenges these patients may have with .

The authors recommend a multidisciplinary approach, beginning with to determine the cause of the malformation, to inform parents about what to expect and to learn about the implications for other family members.

In addition to otolaryngologists, other specialists who typically care for craniofacial patients include pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, dentists and orthodontists. Depending on the congenital condition, a patient also may see pediatric specialists, such as cardiologists, ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, endocrinologists, urologists, nephrologists and orthopaedic surgeons.

Most patients also need additional support services, including case management (social work), psychology or psychiatry, speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and other educational services.

Explore further: In-womb birth defect treatments possible

Related Stories

In-womb birth defect treatments possible

October 16, 2006

British-led research into cleft lip and palate might lead to babies with certain craniofacial disorders being successfully treated in the womb.

Research shows timing improves cleft palate surgery

May 12, 2008

Research by Dr. Damir Matic, a scientist with Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario is changing the way cleft palate surgeries are performed throughout North America and around the world. Matic has been conducting ...

Can cleft palate be healed before birth?

December 1, 2009

In a study newly published in the journal Development, investigators at the USC School of Dentistry describe how to non-surgically reverse the onset of cleft palate in fetal mice - potentially one step in the journey to a ...

Researchers find mechanism behind cleft palate development

September 14, 2010

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found a new mechanism that explains why a certain gene mutation causes craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS), a disorder that causes cleft palate and other malformations in ...

Recommended for you

Team makes Zika drug breakthrough

August 29, 2016

A team of researchers from Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health has found existing drug compounds that can both stop Zika from replicating in the body and from damaging ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.