Cleft lip/palate cause much more than cosmetic problems

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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers find mechanism behind cleft palate development

Sep 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 ...

Can cleft palate be healed before birth?

Dec 01, 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 b ...

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

58 minutes ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

17 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

23 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User 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.