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5 Tibetan children treated for cleft lips

By Wang Xiaodong | China Daily | Updated: 2015-01-20 07:53

Five children from the Tibet autonomous region who were born with cleft lips and palates have had successful surgery at a hospital in Beijing.

They were among six patients ranging in age from 8 months to 7 years from Damxung who arrived at Beijing Children's Hospital on Jan 11 for the treatment.

The surgery was organized by a medical team sent from the capital to assist Tibet, a statement released by the hospital said.

"Five of the children received operations on Tuesday, and all the operations were successful," said Ni Xin, the hospital's president.

The children are recovering at the hospital and may return to Tibet on Monday, he said. The Damxung government is paying for the treatment.

Gao Zhixue, the head of the medical team that went to Tibet, said the other child was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at the hospital, so his cleft lip and palate surgery was postponed.

"The doctors will perform heart surgery first and then decide on the cleft lip and palate surgery," Gao said.

Two of the children had surgery at a hospital in Tibet, but the operations were not successful.

The youngsters will take between three and six months to recover, and will then be able to live normal lives.

Cleft lip and palate is a deformity that occurs when the top lip and the palate fail to form properly before birth, and can lead to problems with speech and feeding.

Many children with the abnormality in Tibet do not receive timely treatment due to the limited healthcare resources in the region, according to Beijing Children's Hospital. The condition results in malnutrition and unclear enunciation, and can cause psychological problems.

In November, five children from Damxung who had the condition underwent successful surgery at the Beijing hospital, one of the country's leading centers for pediatrics.

Gao said the team found 16 people with the abnormality in Damxung during a screening program that began late last year, including the six children who were brought to Beijing this month.

They were all advised to come to the capital for treatment, with the cost being covered by the local government, but some refused because of religious beliefs or a fear of surgery.

Congenital conditions are left untreated more often in Tibet than in other parts of the country because of a lack of health awareness.

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