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Cleft Lip and Palate: Guide for Patients and their parents

March 20, 2024
Cleft Lip and Palate: Guide for Patients and their parents

Cleft lip and palate are common congenital conditions that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. These conditions can be challenging but with proper care and support, individuals with these conditions can lead fulfilling lives.

Understanding Cleft Lip and Palate

  • Cleft Lip: A split or gap in the upper lip that can range from a small notch to a wide opening that extends into the nose.
  • Cleft Palate: A split or opening in the roof of the mouth that can affect the hard palate (the front portion) and/or the soft palate (the back portion).

Diagnosis and Treatment

Cleft lip and palate can often be diagnosed through routine prenatal ultrasounds. If not detected prenatally, it is usually diagnosed at birth by a healthcare provider.

Treatment for cleft lip and palate often involves a team of specialists, including:

  • Pediatrician: Oversees the general health and well-being of the child.
  • Plastic Surgeon: Performs surgeries to repair the cleft lip and/or palate.
  • Speech Therapist: Helps with speech development and communication skills.
  • Orthodontist: Assists in aligning teeth and jaw.
  • Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist: Addresses any hearing issues related to the condition.
  • Dietitian/Nutritionist: Offers guidance on feeding and nutrition.

A current list of ASO Members who treat CL&P patients can be downloaded here.

Support and Resources

  • Australian Craniofacial Unit: Provides specialized care for craniofacial conditions, including cleft lip and palate.
  • CleftPALS: A support network for families affected by cleft lip and palate.

Financial Support

  • Medicare: Offers coverage for many medical expenses related to cleft lip and palate treatment.
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): Provides support and funding for individuals with disabilities, including those related to cleft lip and palate.

While cleft lip and palate can present various challenges, with the right medical care, support, and resources available in Australia, individuals affected can thrive and lead fulfilling lives. Seek guidance from healthcare professionals and support networks to ensure comprehensive care and assistance throughout the journey. Always consult with healthcare providers for personalised advice and treatment options based on individual circumstances.

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