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Cleft Lip & Palate

Cleft Lip & Palate

 

Cleft lip and / or palate is the commonest facial birth defect, affecting anywhere from 1:1000 to 1:500 live births. Surgery is mandatory in all to restore facial aesthetics and allow for normal speech development. For the past decade, I have had the pleasure of working within a team at the Red Cross Childrens’ Hospital Cleft Palate Unit. , This was the brainchild of a local Plastic Surgeon, Dr David Davies, who started the Unit a little over 50 years ago. We treat children with clefts from birth till the age of 18.

It is beyond the scope of this site page to go in to every detail of cleft care, but suffice it to say that a team of specialists is required, with the plastic surgeon being just one cog in the wheel. We like to see and evaluate the child as early as possible – even on the day of birth, if at all practical. Surgery is generally not undertaken before the age of 3 months, and usually the lip and soft palate are addressed at this time, with the hard palate (and possible soft palate lengthening) done some months later, to have all the primary surgery complete by no later than 18 months. Early referrals will be made to a Speech Pathologist, Orthodontist, Psychologist, ENT surgeon and Audiologist. Further surgery may be undertaken as speech develops and bony surgery to the gum is typically done between the ages of 7 and 9 years.

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