A cleft palate and a cleft lip are congenital issues that can manifest while your baby is developing in the womb.
There are a number of different symptoms and causes of a cleft palate and a cleft lip that we’re going to dive into below.
If you’re looking for speech therapy treatments for cleft palate & cleft lip, contact District Speech today to schedule an evaluation for your child.
But, it’s worth noting that if you notice your child has difficulty speaking due to their cleft palate or cleft lip, speech therapy early intervention is key.
This is because the younger your child begins their speech therapy, the greater the chances of success.
Older children have had more time to cement bad speech habits, which makes breaking them more challenging, but of course not impossible.
Now, let’s dive into some more information about cleft palate, cleft lip, and how speech therapy treatment can help.
What Is Cleft Palate & Cleft Lip?
A cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth does not close properly during your baby’s early development inside of the womb.
The palate is made up of two parts: the hard palate and the soft palate.
The hard palate is the bony portion at the front of the roof of your mouth.
The soft palate is found at the back of your mouth and consists of soft tissue.
You can tell the difference between these two parts by running your tongue along the roof of your mouth, front to back.
As you get close to as far back as you can reach, you’ll notice it gets significantly softer.
Now, either of these parts can be cleft.
A cleft lip is when there is a split or opening in the lip that is either small or large enough to connect the upper lip and nose.
Symptoms Of Cleft Palate & Cleft Lip
To start, a split in the lip is the most visible sign of a cleft lip.
One symptom that can occur while feeding is that milk can come out of your baby’s nose because of the abnormal barrier between the mouth and nose due to a cleft palate.
Another is that as your child grows, it is possible for your child to have dental problems like missing or extra teeth.
A cleft palate can also trigger frequent middle-ear infections, which can lead to hearing loss without prompt treatment.
Finally, a cleft palate may also lead to problems with speech, which is often characterized by a nasal quality in the voice.
What Causes Cleft Palate & Cleft Lip
The direct cause of a cleft palate and cleft lip is not yet known, but some factors that doctors believe contribute to an increased risk of developing a cleft palate and cleft lip during pregnancy include:
- drinking alcohol
- cigarette smoking
- being diabetic
- not getting enough prenatal vitamins like folic acid
Other than these, it is most likely caused by genetics.
A cleft palate and cleft lip can occur isolated at birth or as part of a larger genetic syndrome like Van der Woude syndrome, which is a genetic issue.
Medical Intervention For Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
It’s great that with technological advances, we can now diagnose a cleft palate or cleft lip while your baby is still in the womb by using an ultrasound.
An ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of the baby in your abdomen, where your doctor can then check for this.
The medical intervention for a child with a cleft palate or cleft lip will depend on the severity of the condition.
Often, this will involve surgeries to reconstruct the face after closing the opening.
This is typically achieved with a team of specialists including a plastic surgeon, an oral surgeon and an orthodontist.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help With Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate?
If your child has problems with speech because of their cleft, a speech therapist is a great resource to help them overcome their obstacle and enjoy as much ease in their speech as any other child.
Specially, a speech therapist can help by evaluating your child’s:
- resonance and airflow/air pressure
- oral mechanism
- speech and language
By training and improving these four areas, a speech therapist can improve your child’s capacity for speech immensely.
But, it is in the area of articulation that a speech therapist truly shines because they’re able to identify if your child is making compensatory errors with their articulation.
A compensatory error is if your child is not able to form the pressure needed to make pressure consonants like the letters B D P T.
Training to improve this with a speech therapist is of great benefit in these cases.
A potential treatment plan may include:
- proper articulation training
- considering voice, manner and placement
- establishing new speech techniques to replace erroneous ones
- establishing oral pressure techniques
Book An Appointment With District Speech
If your child struggles with speech due to a cleft palate or cleft lip, consider booking an appointment with District Speech as soon as possible.
The sooner your child begins their speech therapy, the greater the chances of success.
This is because older children have had more time to ingrain bad habits, which makes breaking them more challenging.
Contact District Speech today if you’re looking for speech therapy treatments for cleft palate & cleft lip to schedule an evaluation for your child.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.