Common parental anxieties about Cleft Lip and Palate

If your child has been diagnosed with cleft lip and palate then it will of course be a very difficult time for you as a parent. This is something you may have never heard of before, and this may cause you to blame those around you for not picking up on it. But this is a condition that is difficult to diagnose until the child is born, which is why it often goes unidentified during pregnancy. If your child has been diagnosed with cleft lip and palate then you will likely have several questions running through your mind. This may range from worry about how this will affect your child’s social ability, the feeding process or your child’s speech development. Such questions and anxieties are what this section aims to help you deal with.

When is cleft lip and palate diagnosed?

Due to the different forms of cleft lip and palate there are varying stages in which it can be diagnosed. If your child has cleft lip and palate then it is likely that a medical professional will not be able to diagnose the condition until the child is born, while if your child has a cleft lip then there is the possibility that signs of the condition will be picked up during the routine ultrasound scan at the eighteen-twenty mark of pregnancy. However, there is still a great possibility that it will not be identified until birth.

What can you do?

If your child is diagnosed with cleft lip and palate, or one of its various forms, then you will be experiencing a mix of worrisome emotions. The time when your child is diagnosed can determine how you cope. Diagnoses during the routine ultrasound scan at the eighteen-twenty week period of pregnancy, for example, can give you time to come to terms with the condition.

This can also give you time to speak with medical experts to learn of any special requirements your child may need. There are specialists in cleft lip and palate that can offer you sound and expert advice, and who will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have. They can also offer tips on factors such as feeding. If your child is only diagnosed once they are born then there will still be a wealth of medical advice on offer.

Will this condition affect my child’s mental ability?

In terms of biology and physiology, cleft lip and palate will not have an adverse affect on your child’s learning and mental ability. However, there may be some affect on your child’s educational ability due to the affect it can have on their hearing and speech. This can put them at a disadvantage in comparison to other children when in the classroom.

A speech impediment can affect your child’s communication skills, while a hearing problem can cause your child to miss certain things the teachers may say. This can then cause them to fall behind in class. In order to ensure that your child is able to overcome such obstacles you should make sure that they have hearing tests on a regular basis and that they see a speech therapist if they have difficulty communicating.

Are you concerned about your child being taunted at school?

If your child has obvious signs of the condition or has difficulty communicating and hearing, then they may incur some taunting in school. This is due to the inquisitiveness nature of young children and the fear they hold when confronted with unknown conditions. However, there are some steps you and your child can take to help limit such teasing. To start with, rather than hide your child from social settings it is best to get them out there as soon as possible, though this may be difficult at first for both you and your child.

However, this will give them the chance to cope with any negative comments from an early age and to build up a mental resistance to such taunts. Also, do not shy away from any questions your child or people at their school have about the condition. Answering questions will sate their curiosity and help them to understand the condition all the better. Also, talk to your child’s teacher if medical appointments are planned in the near future. The teacher may also be able to help children in your child’s class to better understand the condition.

Will surgery entirely fix the condition?

If your child has cleft lip and palate then surgery is an option, and this can make a real difference to your child’s development. Operations are typically carried out within the first three months of birth, though an operation to mend a cleft palate will usually take place within the first year of birth. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the condition and there may be the need for more than one operation.

The success of the operation in terms of speech and hearing will also vary according to severity. The surgical operation can sometimes result in your child having a nasal sound to their voice, and there may be the need for your child to see a speech therapist to ensure their speech is able to develop properly. It is also advised that you make sure your child has regular hearing tests.

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