You should know about the submucous cleft palate results when the roof of the mouth or palate muscles does not fuse or form properly when a baby is developing in the womb. When a baby is born, a typical cleft palate is visible. However, sometimes it’s more challenging to see the SMCP because it’s hidden beneath the tissue and causes no complications. Therefore, in some situations, it is identified and treated later.
Doctors aren’t always sure why the muscles don’t form properly as they should in the unborn baby’s palate. However, a recent study reveals that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is at play. However, the most common cause is a genetic disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of a Submucous Cleft Palate
Sometimes it’s difficult for the doctors to diagnose the submucous cleft palate during exam until a baby has feeding difficulties or is old enough to speak.
Any or all of the following signs can be seen in an SMCP:
- A notch in the back of the hard palate
- Speech sound errors
- Translucency of the tissue along the middle of the soft palate
- A very wide or split (bifid) uvula
- Trouble feeding as an infant
- Chronic ear infections and effusions (a lfuid buildup behind your eardrum)
- zona pellucida
- a split in the uvula (called a bifid uvula)
- a notch in the back of the hard palate
Diagnosis of Submucous Cleft Palate
As early mentioned that sometimes it’s difficult for the doctors to diagnose the submucous cleft palate during an exam until a baby has feeding difficulties or is old enough to speak. But when your doctor diagnoses submucous cleft palate, they will refer your child to a cleft and craniofacial team for a complete evaluation. This team includes:
- a speech-language pathologist or speech therapist
- a surgeon who will conduct a thorough oral examination
Additional members of the team may assess the child based on unique needs, such as:
Treatment of Submucous Cleft Palate
The problems caused by submucous cleft palate differ from child to child. For example, some children have speech problems and others have ear infections, whereas others don’t have any symptoms or issues with their speech. Children with more severe symptoms (such as hypernasality or nasal air emissions) will almost always need surgical repair of the palate.
If an SMCP is present, but speech is unaffected, surgical intervention is usually not required right away. Instead, the team should monitor the condition for several years to ensure that speech does not alter (i.e., becomes hypernasal) due to growth and development.
Children with a submucous cleft palate can fall into one of four categories:
- No surgical repair needed, speech therapy required.
- No surgical repair required, no speech therapy needed.
- Surgical repair needed, speech therapy needed.
- Surgical repair needed, no speech therapy needed.
Speaking-language therapy is usually beneficial for children with “cleft palate speech” to help address their speech sound abnormalities. An ENT expert can also treat related ear disorders, such as ear tube surgery to drain fluid from the middle ear, prevent future ear infections, and improve hearing.
What Else Should You Know About The Submucous Cleft Palate?
Doctors are cautious about performing an adenoidectomy on children with a submucous cleft palate. So because adenoids are removed, there is more space between the soft palate and the back of the throat. Velopharyngeal dysfunction can occur in children with a submucous cleft palate.