Growing Up with A Cleft Lip and/or Palate - A Qualitative Study

Growing Up with A Cleft Lip and/or Palate - A Qualitative Study 



Graeme H. Wallace OAM, KCSJ, MHSc, Heather Mattner RM PhD MPsych 


Cite this Article as:

Wallace G. H, Mattner H, (2017) Growing Up with A Cleft Lip and/or Palate - A Qualitative Study. J Nursing and Women’s Healthcare: J113




This qualitative Australian study involving 7 participants explored experiences of adults born with a cleft lip and/ or palate, in their transition from childhood to early adulthood. It provides an insightful exposé of their lives and the issues they faced during and after treatment for their clefts, and how it affected their development. While there were many difficult times both during and after surgery they showed great resilience and some believed that they benefited from having had this experience. The information gained from this study has important implications for the medical and nursing professions as well as mental health practitioners, the staged care for the children with clefts and for families who may be faced with similar issues.



The aim of this study was to gain descriptions of the experiences of young people who had been born with a cleft lip and/or palate (CLP). The objective of the study was to achieve an understanding of these experiences over the transition from childhood to their early adult years. The study was part of a larger eclectic study investigating possible causes of CLP

CLP babies may encounter difficulties with breathing, sucking, swallowing, eating, and talking from birth,and endure corrective surgery with extensive hospitalization throughout infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Speech therapy and orthodontic treatments are commonly required and may continue into early adult life[1]. The treatment does not just restore function but involves mediating facial appearance and can occur when children/adolescents develop their identity and self-esteem[2]. An informed understanding of the long-term effects on physical and mental well-being of CLP individuals is therefore vital for surgeons and other health care professionals working with them as well as those who in the future may face these situations should they have a child born with a CLP.

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