Children born with cleft lip, cleft palate or craniofacial disorders encounter health conditions that affect both structure and function of a their head and face (CDC). Each year, numerous infants are born with a cleft lip. Many are born with a cleft palate as well.
According to the Cleft Palate Foundation, a cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of a lip, whereas a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which two sides did not fuse during development. These congenital defects occur very early in pregnancy, often due to genetics and environmental factors.
Treatments vary depending on the severity of the defect. Frequently, a team of medical, surgical, dental and other health professionals work to ensure all developmental and medical needs are met. Additional support services such as speech therapy may be beneficial. Speech therapists at Pediatric Therapy Partners, for example, may practice oral-motor skills, feeding, language skills, and other rehabilitation services that can help support a child’s plan for short-term or long-term goals.
Janette Venaas-Gilbraith, Speech Coordinator and owner at Pediatric Therapy Partners, explains how therapy can improve skills throughout a child’s life.
“It is essential for children with repaired clefts to initiate direct speech and language services to increase the child's sensation where the clefts have been repaired to increase blood flow, feeling, and movement. The earlier the child initiates therapy for the repaired cleft areas and for craniofacial anomalies the better the outcomes for the child has to improve his speech, language, and feeding skills,” Janette said.
The Speech-Language staff at Pediatric Therapy Partners has been trained in specific strategies to better the child's outcomes with clefts and craniofacial anomalies. If you have concerns about your child, please call or visit our website at www.pediatrictherapypartners.com for more information.