The presence of a cleft palate may affect the function of the palatal muscles that assist in draining the fluid from the middle ear, thus, resulting in fluid accumulation and hearing impairment.
It is important to conduct hearing tests for the patients with oral cleft. In most cases, the hearing is intact in patients with only a cleft lip. Therefore, if the initial test showed intact hearing abilities, no further tests will be needed other than the routine checkup. On the other hand, children with cleft palate are more likely to develop middle ear problems and hearing loss. The presence of a cleft palate may affect the function of the palatal muscles that assist in draining the fluid from the middle ear; thus resulting in fluid accumulation and hearing impairment. As the fluid accumulates inside the middle ear, it can predispose the child to middle ear infections that require treatment by antibiotics; in order to prevent permanent hearing loss.
Hearing assessment and monitoring is very crucial due to its association with speech development. Hearing tests should be done 4 weeks after the child’s birth by an Audiologist to determine whether the hearing is compromised and a hearing aid is required.
An Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon must examine the child and decide if he/she needs a tube, known as grommets, to be inserted in the eardrum to facilitate the drainage of the accumulated fluid from the middle ear. If a tube is required, sometimes it can be inserted simultaneously while repairing the palate.