A passion for cleft care is an official blog of UK HealthCare and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
As a pediatric plastic surgeon who specializes in craniofacial care, the subject of cleft care is close to my heart. It’s also important for patients and their families. This blog is meant to be a guide and a place where you can learn more about cleft care.
Hopefully, I will not be the only contributor since I will be inviting those who really know about cleft lip and palates – the patients and their families – to participate and comment.
Allow me to introduce myself briefly. My name is James Liau, MD. I am one of several plastic surgeons in the state of Kentucky who has had an extra year of fellowship training in pediatric and craniofacial surgery.
The other plastic surgeon is Henry Vasconez, MD, who also works here at UK HealthCare.
Although this blog is associated with UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital (where I work), it is really about the patients and families and their journey through cleft care.
Background about cleft lip and palate
Cleft lip and/or cleft palate are present in about 1 in 800 live births. According to the 2008 Kentucky census, there are about 58,000 live births per year in Kentucky. This means, statistically, there will be about 70 children born each year with either a cleft lip or palate.
This is NOT uncommon, and it is not anyone’s fault. As a plastic surgeon who has done extra pediatric and craniofacial fellowship training focusing on cleft care, I fully expect children who have clefts to grow up to have happy, productive and normal lives. My goal is to ensure these children get the start in life they deserve and continually to make sure everything is proceeding according to plan.
For me, cleft care is a passion. What I mean by cleft care goes far beyond just fixing a lip or a palate. It is much more than that. Cleft care means taking care of the child and the families for their entire lives.
Clefts can affect teeth, speech and facial growth, not to mention issues of self-image, teasing and peer relationships. Cleft care addresses all of this, and my goal is to go beyond fixing lips and palates, and also focus on the more complex problems of teeth, speech, facial growth and the issues of self-image and peer relationships later in life.
When we see cleft in popular media and daily conversation, it is usually about developing nations and how we can help provide care to those who have none. In my next entry, I’ll focus on the mission trips both Dr. Vasconez and I do since we feel cleft care should be something everyone should have access to, no matter where they are in the world.
James Y. Liau, MD
Pediatric Plastic Surgery