What is a cleft lip & palate, and what can be done about it?
Generally speaking, a cleft lip and/or palate is a common term for a “craniofacial abnormality" - this is a problem to do with the skull and face.
A cleft lip can range from a small notch above the lip, all the way to a complete separation of the upper lip up to the nose. It can also affect just one side of the face.
A cleft palate is a gap in the top of the mouth, towards the throat. Sometimes a baby can be both with a small lower jaw and, might have difficulties with breathing.
CLAPA is there to provide parents with information about what options are available to them at every stage of their child’s journey. Often, babies will have an operation between 3 and 6 months old (for a cleft lip) and between 6 to 9 months for a cleft palate. Surgery involves reconstructing the shape of the lips and noise that weren’t joined at birth. As the children get older, they may like to receive extra surgery in their teen years if they wish.
For parents and carers, CLAPA is a link to the rest of the cleft community in the UK, as well as the practican and emotional support that CLAPA ensures goes above and beyond what is available with the NHS. Parents are often unaware of the condition and may find a diagnosis stressful and shocking, knowing their child’s first years will include surgery. Practically speaking, the baby could also find it hard to suckle, so the charity will provide specialist equipment for feeding.
For children and young people, the charity offers regular e-newsletters full of information, advice and articles from other people. They also offer a moderated Facebook Group for young people under 18 in order to talk about any issues in a safe and secure environment. There’s also the bi-annual residential weekend, designed to help young people build their confidence, have fun, and meet other young people and strike up friendships that last.
These are just a few of the important work CLAPA does with parents and children. For a full list, and more in-depth information about anything related, be sure to visit the Services page on their website.
4th - 12th May: Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week
Anyone with spare time to donate to help a great cause should consider volunteering for CLAPA. Whether it’s a one-off or a regular thing, there is always something for volunteers. For example, CLAPA could do with occasional help with stewarding at events, public speaking at cheque presentations, bucket collections and more. A full list of what roles are available, visit their Volunteering page.