Cleft lip and cleft palate are relatively common birth defects that are oftentimes misunderstood as simply cosmetic issues. A recent article in Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America by Laura Swibel Rosenthal does a nice job describing the issues that kids with cleft lip and/or cleft palate have to face.
The article states:
About 1 in 600 babies in the United States is born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation. The defect can range from a small notch in the lip to a grove that runs into the roof of the mouth. It can occur in isolation or in combination with other craniofacial birth defects. (A craniofacial disorder refers to an abnormality of the face and/or head.)
Some potential health issues related to cleft lip and/or cleft palate include sleep apnea; upper airway problems such as sinusitis and laryngitis, and hearing loss. Additionally, parents may want to consider support services such as psychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy and educational services to supplement medical and surgical advice and procedures.
Incredible reconstruction and plastic surgery can do amazing things and these kids can lead full and relatively normal lives but knowledge will be another important tool in leading the child through the recovery process.