Management of cleft lip and palate has been well characterized in pediatric patients, but limited data exist regarding the long-term functional outcomes of cleft patients once they reach adulthood.
Materials and Methods:
An institutional, cross-sectional survey of adult patients with a history of cleft lip and/or palate was performed. The survey recorded patient characteristics, concerns, and barriers to care. Patient-reported outcome measures were assessed using the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation Scale, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Mandibular Function Impairment Questionnaire, and the CLEFT-Q Speech Modules.
A total of 63 patients (18.2%) participated in the survey. The mean patient age was 43.7 years (median: 41 y, range: 19–93 y), and the most common diagnosis was cleft lip and palate (51%) followed by isolated cleft palate (35%) and isolated cleft lip (14%). A subset of patients scored with moderate to severe dysfunction on each outcome measure including the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation Instrument (59%), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (7%), and Mandibular Function Impairment Questionnaire (13%). Respondent scores on the CLEFT-Q Speech modules demonstrated a bimodal distribution with lower scores in a significant subset of patients with cleft palate and cleft lip and palate. Many respondents (41%) were interested in clinical evaluation but cited barriers to seeking treatment including financial barriers (35%) or lack awareness of clinical options (27%).
Many cleft patients have persistent needs or concerns in adulthood, especially regarding speech and nasal breathing. Systemic barriers pose challenges to these patients undergoing clinical evaluation.