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Some Teens Born With Cleft Palate Adjust Better Than Others

TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Some young people born with a cleft lip or cleft palate adjust better than others, a new survey finds.

Researchers conducted a mail-in survey of British mothers and their children, aged 11 to 16, who had a cleft lip and/or palate.

Factors that negatively affected adolescents' social and psychological adjustment included having negative social experiences; speech problems, particularly difficulty in being understood; dissatisfaction with their appearance; being male; and using social withdrawal as a coping strategy.

The researchers also found that poor adjustment among mothers was associated with poor adjustment among adolescents with cleft lip/palate.

Cleft lip/palate is a birth defect that occurs when the lip or the palate (the roof of the mouth) fail to close properly during fetal development. According to the March of Dimes, about 6,800 U.S. babies are born with a cleft lip, palate or both annually.

Cleft lip/palate can be treated with surgery. Babies and children with the condition may have difficult feeding, have frequent ear infections and hearing loss, speech difficulties and dental problems.

The study was published recently in the Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.

The findings may help identify and develop new ways to help adolescents with cleft lip and/or palate and their families, such as programs that help decrease anxiety, increase confidence and help families cope, the researchers said.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about cleft lip and palate.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, news release, March 23, 2011

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