As a plastic surgeon with additional specialization in pediatric plastic surgery and craniofacial surgery, it is one of my greatest passions and privileges to repair clefts and other craniofacial abnormalities. My work with children is especially gratifying as I watch the joy on the children, parents’ or caregivers’ faces as the surgery restores both their appearance and function. To see a child grow or attend that first day of kindergarten with their smiles restored or to see the immense gratitude on the face of the parents or caregivers is a source of continual gratification and joy.
Unless you were born with, or someone you know has a cleft or other craniofacial difference, chances are that it is difficult to comprehend the complexity of care needed.
You may be surprised to know that,
- About 1 in every 1,600 babies is born with cleft lip with cleft palate in the United States.
- About 1 in every 2,800 babies is born with cleft lip without cleft palate in the United States.
- About 1 in every 1,700 babies is born with cleft palate in the United States.
- About 1 in every 2,500 babies is born with craniosynostosis in the United States.
Worldwide, these numbers are even greater. That’s a lot of babies coming into our world needing a series of surgeries beginning in infancy and sometimes continuing into adulthood. Many of the children have challenges with feeding, ear infections, hearing problems, and require speech and feeding therapy, specialized dental care, orthodontics, genetics, and psychological support for their craniofacial differences or sometimes due to the effects of bullying. Many times families shoulder a significant emotional and financial burden on families due to the multiple complex medical needs – and many children who are born needing these procedures do not arrive just to wealthy families!
The more awareness we can bring through initiatives such as National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month the more people we can help. The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA), supports and educates families throughout their cleft and craniofacial journeys. In the past year, ACPA has connected with more than 10,000 families and provided personal and emotional support via phone, social media, and email. To find out more about this extraordinary association and discover ways you can help, please visit: https://acpa-cpf.org/2020/05/28/mark-your-calendars-for-national-cleft-and-craniofacial-awareness-month/
As a proud member of the ACPA and the co-chair of its learning resource committee that generates educational booklets and content for patients and families, I am honored to help bring greater awareness to children and adults in every way I can. If you would like to learn more, please contact me.