Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Children With a Cleft Lip With or Without Palate or an Infantile Hemangioma


Objective: Life can be challenging for children with a visible difference due to a medical condition, and they might be at risk for emotional and behavioral problems. This study examines emotional and behavioral problems in children with a cleft lip with or without palate (CL ± P) or an infantile hemangioma (IH) in relation to the visibility of the condition, the presence of additional condition-related problems, and parental affect. Setting: This cross-sectional study took place in an academic medical hospital in the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital, the Netherlands. Participants: A total of 309 parents (mean age = 40.34, 44.00% male) of 182 children with CL ± P and 48 parents (mean age = 39.21, 37.50% male) of 33 children with an IH completed questionnaires. Children were 1.5 to 12 years old. Main outcome measures: The Dutch version of the Parenting Stress Index – Short Form and the subscales Anxiety, Depression and Hostility of the Symptom Checklist – 90. Results: Parents reported fewer child emotional and behavioral problems compared to normative data. Problems reported were mainly related to learning difficulties and parent gender, while visibility of the condition had no significant influence. Parental negative affect was related to child internalizing problems. Parental positive affect was not related to any of the outcome measures. Conclusions: Parents reported fewer problems for their children compared to normative data. This is inconsistent with previous research, showing similar or worse scores for these children compared to peers. Our findings may be explained by a protective parenting style, a response shift in parents, or problems developing at a later point in life.

The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Marije van Dalen
Marije van Dalen
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include the mental health and well-being of adolescents with a chronic illness.