As Velo Cardio Facial Syndrome (VCSF) awareness week is coming up, I decided to provide some information to help raise awareness of Cleft palate conditions and on how speech pathologists can help those with cleft palate and or cleft lip.
A cleft palate is a birth condition where the components of the roof of an infant ‘s mouth have not joining up during early fetal development. Cleft lip is similar but it’s the parts of the lip that are affected. The two halves of the palate or the lip do not fuse properly, leaving an open space known as a ‘cleft’.
Cleft Palate Awareness
Clefting occurs with one in every six to eight hundred live births. Cleft conditions vary in severity and extent with variations including Cleft lip, cleft palate, cleft lip and palate, Microform cleft (notch or scar) as well as cleft involving the soft and/or hard palate. The cleft may occur on one side of the face only (unilateral) or on both sides (bilateral).
VCFS 22q11 Awareness Week is from 24/08/2015 – 30/08/2015. VCSF is due to a genetic cause from the deletion of the 22q11.2 gene. Also known as Velo Cardio Facial Syndrome (VCFS) affects approx. 1 in 2000 – 3000 persons making it the second most prevalent genetic syndrome after Down syndrome but yet no one really knows about it!
- It is the most common genetic syndrome associated with cleft palates.
- The second most common genetic syndrome associated with congenital heart defects.
- 99% of the VCFS population will have a learning difficulty or disability
- 30% of the VCFS population will develop a mental illness.
The cause is unknown however; genetic factors seem to play a role in a small percentage of cases. Roughly one in three children born with a cleft have a relative with the same or similar condition, or an associated chromosomal or genetic condition related to cleft palate.
The condition occurs Late in the first month of pregnancy as the foetus’s mouth develops in two halves that grow closely together. These two halves of the hard palate are meant to fuse together to form the roof of the mouth around the sixth to eighth. Once this occurs the lips and the uvula’s 2 sides also fuse together and by the tenth week the mouth is fully formed and the nose has also developed close to its final form. However, in an infant with a cleft lip or palate, the two halves do not fuse properly and this may cause other areas such as the soft palate or nostrils not to fuse correctly.
Treatment of Cleft Lip and Palate
Surgery can be done usually before the age of one to correct the clefting and any other structures that did not develop properly to help manage the possible feeding and speech concerns that may arise. Children born with a cleft palate also have a greater tendency to develop recurring ear infections, which can also affect the child’s speech and language development. A speech pathologist will assist with paediatric feeding by assessing and implementing the correct utensils and food consistency to ensure that the child is safely swallowing their solids and liquids. Communication milestones are also monitored and the proper assistance for sound production and language production can be provided when the child is not meeting these milestones.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have questions about rehabilitation for children with cleft palate or other speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.
The last week in August is VCFS 22q11 Awareness Week and we ask people to raise awareness by wearing Pink & Blue, using #22qAwareness on social media and hosting a Pink & Blue fundraiser – more details are on the website www.vcfs22q.org.au.