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Cleft Palate And Cleft Lip: Defect In Infants

1484 words - 6 pages

Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip is one of the most common facial defects in infants. However, surgery can correct either defect or both. Scientists believe that environmental and genetic factors though don’t have a specific cause in which they can prevent Cleft Palate or Lip to occur. “Cleft Palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth, and can involve the hard palate and/or the soft palate… Cleft Lip is the physical split or separation of the two sides of the upper lip and appears as a narrow opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. Often the separation extends beyond the base of the nose and includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum” ("Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate: Causes and Treatments", n.d.). Typically, the fuse of the lip and palate happen during the first months of development as an embryo. As listed above, the causes are unknown, though have seen impacts from environmental factors including cigarette and alcohol during pregnancy. There is also the possibility that cleft is inherited through genetics.
Though scientists don’t know the cause of cleft palate or cleft lip, they have developed a way to correct speech within these individuals through surgery in the patients early years, about 1-2 years old at best. Not every individual is able to afford the medical surgery for such a defect since there are multiple surgeries that go into correcting it. With this being the case, many suffer from speech disorders. The speech disorders are geared towards phonology with stress on articulation, along with morphology and semantics.
The main speech disorder that is seen in individuals with Cleft Palate and/or Cleft Lip is phonology. Children with Cleft Palate begin to be delayed in speech from the very beginning. Due to the opening between the nose and mouth, we tend to see resonance and articulation disorders in the children. Resonance is “the way airflow for speech is shaped as it passes through the oral (mouth) and nasal (nose) cavities” (Cleft palate speech). The general guideline sounds in words begin around age 2, typically the m, n, p, b, h sounds. However, with Velopharyngeal Dysfunction (“the opening between the mouth and nose is not closed properly” (Cleft palate speech)), we see compensatory speech errors within an individual's speech. These errors consist of glottal stops, speech sound distortions, pharyngeal fricatives and stops, and nasal substitutions. Each error is slightly different in how we shape our mouth, soft and hard palate. In a speech sound distortion, the “child’s teeth do not ‘line up’ correctly” (Cleft palate speech). “Glottal stops use the larynx (voice box) to produce the sounds instead of the tongue or lips. These sounds include p, b, t, d, k, and/or g” (Cleft palate speech). In pharyngeal fricatives and stops, “the walls of the throat (not the tongue) are used to produce sounds, and most common with s, z, sh, k, and g sounds” (Cleft palate speech). “Nasal substitutions use the tongue and lips...

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