Cleft lips and palates are defects
which develop very early during pregnancy and can be caused by a
vast number of reasons. The joining of lip and jaw and/or the palatal
plane during the first weeks of pregnancy is disturbed and depending
on the extent severe deformities of the whole palate, jaw and lip
are the result. The face is distorted strongly and functions such
as swallowing and speaking are severely disturbed, the jaw is strongly
disfigured, later hearing defects develop quite often.
Christian from Peru with a complete cleft lip
This deformity is common in the whole world and was already known
to early peoples. In some countries it is much more common than
where we come from, 1 estimated child per 500 - 800 births.
Continuous improvement of treatment in developed countries in the
last decades ensures that patients can be cured completely with
an early beginning of treatment. The treatment comprises primarily
a surgical correction of the entire anatomy but also treatment by
specialized dentists, ENTdoctors and speech therapists.
In developing countries, a majority of these otherwise healthy and
normal children will never have an operation, as there is no medical
infrastructure, specialists are missing and as the majority of the
population cannot afford medical help.
Due to superstition and ignorance, small children are often hidden
or even cast out by their families.