Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that occur during the first 3 months of pregnancy when parts of the lip or palate do not completely fuse together. A cleft lip is an opening in the lip and a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth.
While speech problems are common in children with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate, children with cleft palate more commonly need the help of a speech-language pathologist.
Before a cleft palate is repaired, there is no separation between the nasal cavity and the mouth. This means that a) the child cannot build up air pressure in the mouth because air escapes out of the nose, and b) there is less tissue on the roof of the mouth for the tongue to touch. Both of these problems can make it difficult for the child to learn how to make some sounds. It is not unusual for a child who is born with a cleft palate to show a delay in both the onset of speech and the development of speech sounds.
Once the palate has been repaired, the child may be able to learn more consonant sounds and say more words, but speech may still be delayed during the early years. Articulation problems (difficulties in making certain sounds) may persist in some children throughout early childhood.
An evaluation by one of our speech-language pathologists will help decide if speech therapy services or other types of interventions are needed. Our speech-language pathologists will be able to improve your child’s speech production, language development, and minimize any feeding difficulties.
For more information:
Call us at 770-209-9826!
Visit us at www.pediaspeech.com!