Children with cleft lips and cleft palates are frequently shunned and denied
an education because of their appearance and speech impediments. In many
countries, clefts carry significant stigmas. Mothers who give birth to children
with cleft lips and or cleft palates can be forced to leave the house, and the children
can be barred from school and job opportunities. Kids with cleft palates
are often chronically malnourished and underweight because the roofs of their
mouths are not closed, making breast feeding and eating difficult. Some children
with cleft lips suffer nutritional problems as well because the gap in their
lip makes it difficult to suck. They also suffer dental and middle ear problems.
A cleft lip is a congenital anomaly that occurs when one or both sides of the
upper lip fail to fuse. A cleft palate is also a congenital anomaly, found when
of one or both sides of the roof of the mouth fail to fuse. The severity of cleft
lip and cleft palate can range from a slight notch in the lip to a wide cavity in
the upper lip, upper gum, and/or palate, extending into the nasal cavity. A
variety of factors influence the development of cleft lip and cleft palate, which
happens very early in pregnancy. Researchers continue to study the causes,
but no one knows for sure why clefts happen.
Reconstructive surgery can successfully repair cleft lip and cleft palate.
However, in many developing countries, where adequate medical care
may not be available or affordable, it is common for people never to receive
corrective surgeries. ReSurge has been working to repair their broken smiles
for nearly 45 years through reconstructive surgery, providing tens of thousands
of children and their parents hope for a renewed and transformed life.