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About Cleft

Effects of cleft

Untreated clefts can have many health consequences for the child. The younger the patient is when he is treated, the better the final outcome usually is, but many health problems caused by cleft can also be repaired in adults and we reguarly treat adult patients as well.

One common consequences of cleft is feeding problems. Babies cannot drink from a bottle or nurse properly. Many children become undernourished as a result, and in severe cases of cleft can even die because they cannot intake enough milk or baby formula. Adults still have problems with food and drink falling out of the mouth, or, in the case of a cleft palate, even the nose.

An open palate means that mouth, nose and ears are not properly separated. This can cause many health problems for the patient. Speech impairment and ear infections are common consequences. The muscles in the soft part of the palate are connected to the middle ear via a tube (Eustachian tube) and help the middle ear function properly. For children with cleft palate this normal functioning is disturbed, resulting in decreased hearing, infections, and fluid discharge through the ear. The symptoms of decreased sense of hearing can affect learning and the general well being. That is why the closure of the palate is the most important cleft surgery.

Due to their appearance and superstitions in the society, many cleft children suffer from social isolation and feel hesitation going to school or even leaving the house. The speech and hearing problems resulting from the cleft(s) further hinder the children's social development and ability to do well in school and later at work, meaning that they can have problems leading a normal life.

The good news is that cleft can be treated very well, improving all of these problems!