ABOUT US > What we do 

What we do

Cleft India is dedicated to helping needy patients born with cleft, a common birth defect. One in every 5-600 births are thought to be affected. The defect occurs when the structures of the face, which initially form seperately in the womb, do not fuse together properly, which usually happens during the second month of the pregnancy. There is no single cause, but genetic disposition, marriage between close relatives, and environmental factors such as living at high altitude, malnutrition, some medications and illnesses, and pollution are thought to play a role. The most common type is cleft lip and/or palate (hare's lip), but other, more severe types can also occur. Cleft patients face severe functional impairments.

The impact of cleft

Cleft lip can lead to problems with everyday functions such as eating and speaking and represents a serious cosmetic issue that can lead to problems in social life and, as a result, psychological well-being. Some patients are too ashamed to leave the house. Others are hidden away by their families, because folk superstitions exist in some communities that see cleft as a punishment cast on a family for some act of evil or sin.

The cleft palate is less visible, but constitutes an equally severe impairment. The open palate can mean that food or drinks come out of the nose when eating. Since the palate plays a role in the formation of speech sounds, the cleft can make the patient's speech unintelligble. Furthermore, the open palate means that the sinus system, a system of interconnected cavities in the human skull, cannot work properly, which can lead to chronic ear infections and, as a result, loss of hearing. Partial hearing loss can cause further problems with language acquisition, meaning that cleft should be treated as early as possible.

How is cleft treated?

The physical cleft is treated through surgery, which joins the separated lip and palate. This surgery, performed skillfully, has excellent functional and cosmetic results, especially when performed very early in life. Additional orthodontic treatment may be necessary to help with the proper positioning of the teeth. Speech therapy can help with remaining issues with the formation of sounds.

The Cleft India partners work to treat cleft by raising donations to treat needy patients. The treatments are performed at partner hospitals throughout India, which can be further supported with equipment grants, where appropriate. Doctors, nurses, and therapists can receive additional training to specialize in cleft treatment through Cleft India, and we support the dissemination of our professionals' hard-won experience through seminars and workshops. We are currently offering treatment at more than 30 centers throughout India and are constantly working to expand our efforts to reach even more patients, since many unfortunately still go without treatment.