Also cause airway, feeding, speech and hearing problems
Children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other craniofacial disorders face numerous medical challenges beyond appearance.
Patients can face serious airway, feeding, speech and hearing problems, as well as social and psychological challenges, Laura Swibel Rosenthal, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center and colleagues write in the June 2012 issue of Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America.
"The management of patients with craniofacial syndromes is complex," Rosenthal and colleagues write. "Otolaryngologic [ear-nose-throat] evaluation is of paramount importance in providing adequate care for this patient population."
About 1 in 600 babies in the United States is born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation. The defect can range from a small notch in the lip to a grove that runs into the roof of the mouth. It can occur in isolation or in combination with other craniofacial birth defects. (A craniofacial disorder refers to an abnormality of the face and/or head.)
The first step in managing craniofacial patients is ensuring a safe airway. There's also a great potential for nasal obstruction and sleep apnea. And patients are at increased risk of developing upper airway problems such as sinusitis, laryngitis and rhinitis.
Hearing loss is common and often progressive. Thus, in addition to receiving standard newborn hearing screening, craniofacial patients should continue to receive periodic hearing tests, Rosenthal and colleagues write.