Approximately one in seven hundred children throughout Europe are born with cleft lip and/or cleft lip and palate, yet it remains little understood. The condition is completely treatable, and with the right medical care and social support, children born with clefts can go on to achieve the same as any other child. Yet access to good treatment varies enormously throughout Europe, meaning that many children born with clefts are never given the opportunity to realise their full potential.
Those children that are fortunate enough to access treatment, may face a confused system of care. There are more than 200 hospital teams in Europe specialising in cleft treatment, with 195 different ways of managing cleft care. Moreover, those countries facing difficulties with configuration of services are not necessarily those that face the greatest economic hardship.
Children born with clefts deserve better and all European nations should recognise that they have an obligation to ensure these children have access to good quality care, with evidence-based treatment outcomes.
The European Cleft Organisation strives to ensure that every child in Europe has access to high quality cleft treatment, care and support. Working through a network of patients, families and health professionals, we provide information for new families, promote best practice guidelines for health professionals, lobby governments and the EU for minimum standards of care.
For information about cleft care and support groups around Europe please visit our European Cleft Gateway, a new resource for families and health professionals. This is funded by the European Science Foundation's EUROCleftNet programme.