Stories

Conditions we treat: cleft lip and palate





One of the most common conditions at CURE is cleft lip and palate, especially at Tebow CURE in the Philippines. Cleft lip and cleft palate are openings in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or both. Cleft lip and cleft palate result when facial structures don’t develop properly during gestation. 

Cleft conditions can seriously impact a child’s health if not ignored. For example, babies with cleft lip and palate cannot breastfeed, leading to malnutrition and death in the most severe cases. In addition, children with cleft lip and palate are at risk of chest infections because of over-exposed passageways. The condition also makes it difficult for a child to speak, which leads to developmental delays and sociocultural issues.

On top of this is the facial disfigurement with a cleft lip. It can be difficult for families to deal with, and some abandon their children. Even when the family accepts the condition, many children end up not going to school because they get teased or bullied by their peers.

The goal of cleft lip and palate surgery is to close the gap created in the lip and roof of the mouth, which requires rearranging the muscle and tissue to make the most normal-looking and functional lip, mouth, and nose. 

With cleft surgery, children typically heal quickly – about a week after surgery. However, the long-term healing and follow-up after surgery continue throughout a child’s life. Doctors monitor the child to see any changes in their speech when they speak. If the speech is unclear, a child will need speech therapy or receive another surgery. As they continue to grow, they might need more physical adjustments and treatment for their teeth, orthodontic work, and bone grafting. They will require many surgeries later on while being expected to have regular clinic check-ups until they reach adulthood.

This is why it is beneficial for kids like Ayesha (pictured above) to receive treatment from specialized CURE-trained doctors. Doctors at CURE repaired Ayesha’s cleft lip and palate before she learned how to speak, so she will adjust well to speech therapy and hopefully communicate with few physical and social complications.

When appropriately addressed, cleft lip and palate are very treatable conditions that won’t hinder a child’s life. (Because of the support from people like you and our partnership with Smile Train, CURE can reach and treat children with cleft lip and palate every day — making a difference for children with disabilities.)

One of the beautiful things about CURE is that it allows everyone to participate in the life-transforming surgeries at CURE hospitals worldwide. To participate in life-changing and life-saving work, you don’t need to understand words like bilateral, ventricle, genu valgum, congenital, or cerebral-spinal fluid. But with this said, having an understanding of the conditions CURE treats does allow a deeper appreciation of just how important your donation is to our ministry.

To support a child’s surgery, click here.