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Often, the children most in need of adoption are those with special needs. These are children like any other – they love, they laugh, and they need a home of caring people – but with a particular condition that may require special attention.
Among the most common such conditions is cleft palate, a condition in which the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together properly during pregnancy. You are probably familiar with images of children with this condition, or of children with cleft lip.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are often discussed in tandem, though in truth these are separate (albeit related) conditions. A cleft palate may appear to be merely a cosmetic problem, which in and of itself would present an ongoing problem for a child, but in fact the problem can run deeper.
Children with a cleft lip or cleft palate may have difficulty speaking clearly.
Eating may also be more difficult for them. The condition may also expose them to ear infections more often than other children.
Cleft palate may expose children to hearing problems and problems with their teeth.
This malady is not uncommon. Each year in the United States along, over 7,000 babies are born with cleft palate, cleft lip, or related issues.
The cause of cleft palate is unknown. Scientists believe the cause is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but the specifics remain unknown.
As noted, a child with cleft palate requires special care. Three common problems for young children with cleft palate include:
1. When eating or drinking, food and fluids can pass from the mouth through the nose. Use specially designed bottles, a man made palate, or a combination of both until surgery can correct the issue.
2. Frequent ear infections from fluid buildup can lead to hearing loss if not treated.
3. Those with cleft palate tend to have a larger number dental problems, including an increased number of cavities, misplaced teeth, and alveolar ridge defects.
Thankfully, modern medical care can usually address this condition and help mitigate its impact on a child’s quality of life. Surgery to repair a cleft palate is recommended in the first 18 months of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Surgery can help alleviate speech, breathing, language, and hearing issues that develop as a result of a cleft palate. In fact, most children with clefts go on to lead healthy, happy lives. Some suffer from appearance-related self-esteem issues, but this can be alleviated with caring parenting and support groups.However, it is important to note that early surgery does not completely eliminate all problems associated with this medical condition. Complications can continue throughout childhood and into adolescence. Because of this, the American Cleft Palate – Craniofacial Association suggests working with a cleft and craniofacial team to create a plan for caring for children with cleft palate.Teams who treat cleft palates may include:
Plastic surgeons (to address cosmetic and structural issues)
Otolaryngologist (to address hearing problems)
Oral surgeons (to address structural issues)
Orthodontists (to straighten and reposition teeth)
Prosthodontist (to make dental appliances that aid with eating and speaking)
Speech pathologists and therapists
Audiologists (to assist with hearing-related issues)
With the support of experts like those listed above (along with social workers, dentists, support groups, and others), children with cleft palate can grow up to lead positive, enriching lives. Further, the adoptive parents of those children can experience all the ups, downs, joys, and heartaches that come with being a parent.
Click on the image below to view waiting children with cleft lip or palate who are available for adoption!
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