What is Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft lip and palate are congenital conditions in which a baby's lip or mouth does not form properly during early pregnancy. These conditions can lead to feeding, speech, hearing, and dental problems, and require surgical intervention.

A child born with a cleft lip and/or palate can face numerous challenges that impact their life in various ways, ranging from health complications to social issues.

How does it affect a child?

Physically, a cleft lip and/or palate can interfere with feeding, especially in infants. Babies may struggle to create the suction needed for breastfeeding or bottle feeding, leading to poor nutrition and growth. As they grow, these children may face difficulties with speech and language development, as the cleft can affect their ability to articulate words clearly. Moreover, a cleft palate can result in a fluid buildup in the ears, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss. This can also further complicate speech and language skills.

Beyond the physical complications, the psychological and social impact can also be significant. Children with cleft lip and palate may experience social stigma and isolation due to their appearance and speech difficulties. These challenges can affect their self-esteem, social interactions, and academic performance, leading to long-term psychological distress.

Can cleft lip and palate be repaired?

With surgery, a child suffering from cleft lip and/or cleft palate can have a brand-new, beautiful smile. In an ideal situation, a pediatrician and a reconstructive plastic surgeon work with a child’s parents soon after the child’s birth to choose the best timing for surgery. Most surgeons agree that a cleft lip should be repaired by the time a baby is 3 months old, and a cleft palate should be repaired between the ages of 12 and 18 months. Several subsequent surgeries may also be required throughout one's childhood and adolescence.

But for many of the patients and families we serve in low- and middle-income countries, early surgical intervention isn't an option due to lack of financial resources, access to qualified medical staff and other factors. Bela Risu Foundation remains dedicated to finding these families around the world and providing them with surgery and ongoing care earlier in life so that they can live happier and healthier lives.

Where does Bela Risu Foundation come in?

Bela Risu Foundation comes in to alleviate this global health challenge, through its core mission of providing comprehensive, high-quality care by employing innovative solutions for people born with cleft lip and/or palate.

At the heart of Bela Risu's work is our patient-centered approach that goes beyond medical intervention to embrace holistic care. We provide accurate and reliable information to patients and partners, fostering an informed community and promoting evidence-based practices. In addition, we invest in research and capacity building of care providers, improving the standard of care for cleft management across the board. Bela Risu also advocates for a dignified livelihood for all persons affected by these conditions, creating opportunities for them to achieve their full functional and social potential.

The Foundation's tireless efforts are rooted in life-changing solutions, helping to rewrite the narrative of individuals with cleft lip and palate in vulnerable communities worldwide.

What does it cost to provide surgery?

It costs as little as $550 helps provide surgery to a child with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. This is possible thanks to the generous contributions of medical professionals who volunteer their time and expertise, as well as corporations that donate critical supplies and equipment necessary for safe surgery. This cost includes expenses incurred for essential medical team members to be at a surgical program, the expenses for additional required supplies and cargo shipping costs.

Where can I get additional information?

If you would like additional information regarding cleft lip and cleft palate, statistics and treatment, please contact us.

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