Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the commonest birth defects affecting children in Malaysia. The reported incidence of cleft lip and palate is about 1 in 700 live births. Cleft lip (separation of upper lip) and/or cleft palate (separation of roof of mouth), occurs due to failure of fusion of these structures during the early stages of fetal development. The spectrum of these oro-facial deformities may present as a mild form (small indentation on the lip) to an extensive deformity involving the lip and palate of either one or both sides of the face.
The management for cleft lip and cleft palate involves a multidisciplinary team approach, performed at specific age group to correct the structural and functional deformities of the oro-facial region to improve facial aesthetic, speech, dental occlusion and child’s self-esteem. This multidisciplinary team consists of plastic surgeon, pedodontist, orthodontist, ENT surgeon, speech therapist, psychologist and nurse. The team can work together to define a course of treatment at specific age, including surgical repair of the cleft, speech rehabilitation and dental restoration. The timing of management depends on the individual circumstances of the cleft child.