July is the month dedicated to cleft and craniofacial awareness and the prevention of these conditions. The AmeriFace and Cleft Advocate knew the significance of these conditions and wanted to make a change in the United States. Cleft and craniofacial diagnoses affect physical appearance, as well as important functions such as eating, hearing, and eyesight.
The conditions related to cleft and craniofacial disorders affect thousands of people including children, babies, teenagers, and adults each year in the United States.
Below are answers to common questions about cleft or craniofacial conditions.
What is a cleft lip and cleft palate?
A cleft lip is an incomplete lip with an opening that starts from the base of a lip to the bridge of the nose. Similar to the cleft lip, there is a diagnosis of cleft palate. A cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth (palate) doesn’t close, leaving an opening that can extend into the nasal cavity.
Can you be born with congenital anomalies like cleft lip and palate?
The short answer is yes. It’s common to be born with these anomalies because they are developed within the first 3 months of pregnancy. However, there is still the possibility of developing craniofacial conditions past birth.
Other common causes include:
- Severe burns
- Traumatic injuries, such as animal attacks
- Various skin diseases
How will these congenital anomalies affect an individual?
These congenital anomalies can affect people in numerous ways, both physically and emotionally. Some of the effects include:
- Problems with eating/feeding
- Improper speech development, such as slurring words and lisps.
- Dental issues
- Lower self-esteem and confidence
- Hearing difficulties
- Higher chances for ear infections
What is the cause? Is it preventable?
Currently, there is no definitive cause for a cleft lip or palate. However, genetics and exposing your baby to risks may play a role. These risks may include smoking, drinking, certain medications, and not eating healthy.
Are there treatments that can correct a cleft & craniofacial condition?
There are both surgical and non-surgical options for the treatment of cleft and craniofacial conditions.
- Airway management
- Hearing evaluation and treatment
- Speech evaluation and treatments
- Cleft lip repair
- Cleft palate repair
- PE tube insertion for chronic ear infections
- Nasal surgery
- Closure of palate fistulas
- Orthodontic surgery
- Complex craniofacial surgery
How can you help?
- Spread awareness by posting about Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month on your social media platforms.
- Educate your friends and families.
- Attend or host fundraisers either in person or virtually.