Children with orofacial clefts face challenges in school concerning cognition, reading, language, hearing, speech, and developmental and behavioral problems, which leads to poor academic achievement compared with their peers. The article “Academic Outcomes of Children with Isolated Orofacial Clefts Compared with Children without a Major Birth Defect,” in The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, discusses a comparative study among children 5 to 12 years old with and without orofacial clefts born between 1996 and 2002. Parents were surveyed and academic data were collected including letter grades, grade retention, and school days missed.
Overall, 1008 surveys were mailed; 289 were completed with 150 being from parents of a child having an orofacial cleft and 139 without. The surveys concluded that children with an orofacial cleft had more developmental disabilities, hearing problems, speech problems, and ear infections. They were also more likely to receive lower grades and miss more school days than children without a major birth defect. There was no difference in children being held back a grade between the two groups.
The authors felt that parents, health care providers, and educators should be aware of potential academic differences in children with an isolated orofacial cleft so that these children could be monitored and provided necessary services as early as possible. The authors recognized that the small sample size was a limitation to the study and that a broader range of children should be sampled, and that a follow-up study looking at high school children would be beneficial so as to compare the progression of how the orofacial cleft group has been impacted over time academically.
The full-text article is available at www.cpcjournal.org.
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