West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Support required for parents of new born children with a cleft palate

Published: 20 November, 2012

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has questioned the Health Minister on what support is given to parents of new born children with a cleft palate. A cleft lip is a split in the upper part of the lip, while a cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth and occurs during early development in the womb when the upper lip or palate doesn't join together properly. Around 1 in 700 babies in the north of Ireland are born with this common genetic disorder every year. Ms. Boyle said, "Learning that your baby is to be born with a cleft lip or palate can be a distressing time for any parent. Parents can often feel frightened and at times isolated when they learn of their unborn child's condition. More than often a lot of people may not know how to cope with their baby's disorder and are unaware of what services are actually available to them. As it currently stands new born children suffering from a cleft palate will either be seen initially by a Consultant Orthodontist or a Consultant Plastic Surgeon, with involvement from a multidisciplinary team. A cleft palate nurse specialist with a regional remit has recently been appointed and has responsibility for coordinating care and supporting parents at diagnosis. All cleft palate children are treated by a multidisciplinary team; this includes providing advice to parents and when appropriate to the children at every stage of treatment and in the longer term. Children are reviewed at around the age of 2 ½ years, 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, 15 years and 20 years. It is vital that the Health Minister ensures all necessary help and advice is readily available for parents of children with a cleft palate, and he must ensure that ideal long term aftercare for the child is accessible."