Risk and Protective Factors at Age 10: Psychological Adjustment in Children With a Cleft Lip and/or Palate.


Objective To explore psychological functioning in children with a cleft at age 10 from a broad perspective, including cognitive, emotional, behavioral, appearance-related, and social adjustment. High-risk groups were identified within each area of adjustment to investigate whether vulnerable children were found across domains or whether risk was limited to specific areas of adjustment. Methods Retrospective chart review from psychological assessments at age 10 (N = 845). The effects of gender, cleft visibility, and the presence of an additional condition were investigated. Results were compared with large national samples. Measures Personality Inventory for Children, Child Experience Questionnaire, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Satisfaction With Appearance scale. Results The factor affecting psychological adjustment on most domains was the presence of an associated condition in addition to the cleft. As expected, no support was found for cleft visibility as a risk factor, while there were some gender differences related to emotional difficulties and attention. Correlation analyses of risk groups pointed to an association between social experiences and emotional adjustment and between social and behavioral adjustment; whereas, dissatisfaction with appearance was not related to any other domains of risk at age 10. Conclusions The results point to the importance of early screening and assessment of children born with a cleft to identify possible associated conditions and offer adapted and appropriate treatment and care. Future research should investigate how protective factors could counteract potential risk in children with a cleft.