In children with cleft lip and cleft palate, depending on the severity of deformation, various problems are encountered.
In the absence of separation in the palate, liquids and food can enter into the nose from the mouth. Specially designed feeding bottles with nipples are now available to stop fluids and food flowing back into the nose. Even manmade palates are available to help these children with cleft palate to feed properly until proper surgical treatment is provided.
Fluid buildup can occur in children with cleft palate making them more prone to middle ear infections. If these infections can cause loss of hearing if not treated. To aid regular fluid drainage from the middle ear, special tubes are needed to be placed in the ear drums. These children need regular exam at least once a year to check for any ear problems.
Children with cleft palate may face problems in their speech as their sounds are not carried on well and may take on a nasal pitch. In most the children surgery can fix this problem and in some children, assistance of speech pathologist may be needed who can work with these children to resolve the problems.
Children with clefts are more inclined to suffer from dental problems due to malformed, missing, extra or misplaced teeth. In addition, children with cleft palate are likely to have defective bony upper gum part that holds the teeth. This defect may prevent proper development of the upper ridge, displace and rotate permanent teeth and hider the appearance of teeth. Most of these problems can be corrected through surgery.
Due to differences in the appearance from the normal children and also because of the stress from the intensive medical treatment, these children with clefts may experience social, behavioral and emotional problems. A psychologist or social worker can help your child, you and your family to overcome these difficulties.