How to deal with children born with physical deformities?

One of the commonest deformities that children are born with, is cleft lip and/or cleft palate. It is so instantly visible because it is right on the face. It is a combination of aesthetic as well as functional deformity. Approximately 1 in 700 children are born with this deformity.

Palate is the roof of your mouth. The part that your tongue touches while pronouncing the ‘T’ in the word ‘talk’, is the hard palate, and the softer part behind it, towards the throat, is the soft palate. While the body of the baby is being formed in the mother’s womb, some parts of the skull may fail to join and it results in a cleft palate. this might involve the soft palate, hard palate, and sometimes even the lips.

6 month old girl having cleft palate

6 month old girl having cleft palate

The diagnosis of this problem is quite easy to arrive at, and the treatment is to repair it by surgery. The earlier it is repaired, the better. Below is the image of (1)a 6 month old girl having cleft palate, (2) the girl 1 month after surgery and (3) the same girl at 8 yrs of age.(source : WikiPedia)

The girl 1 month after surgery and the same girl at 8 yrs of age

The girl 1 month after surgery and the same girl at 8 yrs of age

My purpose for writing this article is for you mothers to understand, that the most important thing for you and your child, if born with a cleft palate, is to ACCEPT. Accept this deformity as a part of your baby’s being. This deformity does not make your child less beautiful or less loveable. We love Lord Ganesha with his elephant-like nose so why not our own child with a deformed lip/nose?

The mother’s attitude towards the child, and her unconditional love for the child in spite of the deformity, is absolutely essential for the proper psycho-social development of the child. It has been reported that elevated stress levels in mothers correlated with reduced social skills in their children. So please be supportive of your child and help him/her believe that a cleft palate is not at all his/her fault, and he/she should not lose any confidence because of this problem.

At the same time, it is important to remember that this problem can be corrected with surgery. It is never too soon to correct it. This surgery is very safe and can also be performed on new-borns. As per an international study, most children who have their clefts repaired early enough are able to have a happy youth and social life

For those of you in Ahmedabad, please note that cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are offered free of charge in Ahmedabad, under a project called ‘Smile Train’ since October 2012. You may contact Dr.Jayul Kamdar (+91 9825009042) for the same.

For Pregnancy Classes in Ahmedabad, Surat and Chandigarh visit Rita’s Pregnancy 101

Dr. Gunjan Shah

Related Posts
Leave a reply