AIIMS to conduct conference on care of children born with cleft lip, palate & craniofacial anomalies

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The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi is hosting a conference on the care of children born with cleft lip, palate and craniofacial anomalies. The programme is part of the ninth Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Cleft Lip palate and Craniofacial Anomalies which is being held in New Delhi from April 23 to April 25.

This conference would provide a platform to debate strategies and approach in the prevention and management of congenital deformities of face including cleft Lip and Palate for a country like India where social, economic and educational constraints have a direct impact on cleft management strategies and quality of treatment to be provided by interdisciplinary teams.

The conference aims to direct and pave a way to quality care for cleft patients and congenital defects of face and teeth and jaws and strategies towards their prevention. The conference is being hosted by Indian Society of Cleft Lip Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies (ISCLPCA) and organized by a team from the Centre for Dental Education and Research, and Department of Surgical Disciplines, AIIMS.

It is expected that about 250 delegates from India and abroad will participate in the conference. More than 30 renowned national and international speakers will deliberate in the conference along with about 70 free sessions and posters.

Cleft lip and Palate are the birth defects of palate and lip, which hinder the function, esthetics, speech and social life of affected children. The incidence of this disease varies across the world but India shares major chunk of untreated cases of cleft lip and palate. According to estimates, about one in 800 live births in India are suffering from this defect. According to rough estimates, about 182 cleft children are born every day and about 30,000 cleft children are born every year in India. Cleft lip and / or palate is not just a medical problem but also a social problem because of the disfiguring effect of the cleft on the face of the new born.

These children suffer from feeding difficulties and food particles going into nose and lung in very early age and later on they suffer from low self esteem, Malnutrition due to poor dental health and reduced mastication, hearing difficulties, speech difficulties, recurrent chest infection, missing teeth supernumerary and malformed teeth. These cleft defects can be surgically repaired in early childhood, but residual deformity due to scarring and abnormal facial development results in continuing functional and psychosocial problems with poor developing upper jaw, abnormal; dental alignment of teeth and many more. Thus, clefts have a prolonged, adverse influence on the health and social integration of the affected.

The treatment of such children requires multiple specialists and team approach during the developmental phase. In order to bring all specialists under one umbrella and to improve care of such patients, Indian Society of Cleft Lip Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies (ISCLPCA) was established in the year 1998. The society has more than 300+ life members of different specialties such as plastic surgeons, orthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, speech therapists, paediatricians, anaesthetists, geneticists and other medical specialists involved in cleft care and are the front runners in generating awareness and providing help to the needy.

In the developed world a child born with cleft deformity is treated with a specific protocol right from the time child is born by integrated team of specialists comprising of plastic surgeons/cleft surgeons, orthodontists, speech therapists and ENT surgeons.
In developing countries like ours the challenges are different as there is a lack of availability of such integrated team clinics which are few and not capable handling huge number of cleft patients across the country. This coupled with a lack of awareness and limited resources make it even more difficult to provide the integrated approach of treatment to these children.

It is not rare to come across untreated cases of cleft or partially treated cases, many may have extensive scarring due to unavailability of good surgical facilities. The theme of this conference 'Refinement of cleft care in developing countries' is a reflection of our constant endeavour to develop a special approach to meet the unique challenges offered by cleft patients in the developing world.


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