Malnutrition– Malnutrition or malnourishment is a condition that results from eating a diet in which nutrients are either not enough or are too much such that the diet causes health problems. It may involve calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals. Not enough nutrients is called under nutrition or undernourishment while too much is called over nutrition. Malnutrition is often used specifically to refer to under nutrition where there are not enough calories, protein, or micronutrients.
Drinking- Babies with only a cleft lip are likely able to breastfeed and/or use a typical bottle. Babies with a cleft of the palate often require special bottles and nipples and likely will work with a cleft palate feeding specialist (often, the team speech-language pathologist) to ensure adequate feeding method and nutrition. A lactation specialist may also be consulted to monitor successful feedings and growth. The craniofacial speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, nurse, and lactation specialist can assist in choosing the best bottle for your child. See feeding and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphasia) in Children for additional information.
Breathing- In the initial period after birth, it is critical for the child to breathe and feed well. Neonates with cleft palate may demonstrate some degree of respiratory distress, especially if micrognathia is present. The otolaryngologist is often involved with the evaluation and management of the airway.
Ear Infection- Kids with cleft palate can have hearing loss. This may be caused by fluid building up inside the ear. They usually need very small special tubes placed in their eardrums to help them hear better. Therefore, children with cleft palate should have their ears and hearing checked about once or twice a year.
Communication- If a child has only a cleft lip, speech development should be typical or very close to typical. Children with cleft lip and palate or cleft palate only often need speech intervention to monitor speech development and to treat any speech delays or errors that they might develop. Some children will require speech therapy. Others will require further surgery. And others may require both. Some craniofacial teams may incorporate a temporary “speech appliance” in addition to speech therapy. These are all decisions guided by your child’s cleft palate craniofacial team.
Know about taking care of a cleft child.