HATTIESBURG, MISS. – July serves as “National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month” and a local Pine Belt duo works together to tackle the birth defect.
“Cleft palate is the number one birth defect in the United States,” Kim Sue Wise, a Speech Language Pathologist at Forrest General Hospital Outpatient Pediatric Rehad said. “It affects about one and every thousand kids.”
According to "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" approximately 2,650 babies are born with the defect.
“Cleft palate is a congenital defect that happens early in pregnancy where structures just don't meet,” Wise explained. “Like it could be a lip, so there ends up being a hole that needs to be surgically repaired.”
This month Wise and Sarah Myers from USM work on raising awareness about the birth defect, and how parents could possibly prevent it.
“Women should always consult with their OB, and women that of birthing age should take prenatal vitamins,” Sarah Myers, the Assistant Director of Southern Miss Children’s Center said. “That’s typically what OBs recommend because we can prevent some of those midline deformities.”
However, if a child does suffer from a cleft palate there are opinions available.
“There's typically teams of individuals that will help consult with families about what kind of differences that child might have, and what support they need as they go through life,” Myers said. “Speech therapy is definitely one thing that we can follow in children from the moment they are born to until later on, and that's what we do here at the children’s center.”
Sarah Myers and Kim Sue Wise maybe working for different companies, but their goals are similar. A goal to inform the nation about birth defect called cleft palate.