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Gender issues in parenting cleft lip and palate babies in southern Nigeria: a study of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital

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There is a scarcity of studies on gender issues in parenting cleft lip and palate (CLAP) babies. The birth of a CLAP child presents an immediate visible handicap that is distressing to parents. The aims and objectives of this study are to determine the influence of gender on the attitude of parents on the birth of CLAP babies, to articulate the adverse effects on parents following the birth of CLAP babies and to make suggestions on ways of ameliorating these effects. The study shows that the birth of a CLAP child has adverse effects on its parents. The effects are greater on their mothers. Parents' reactions, combining shock and grief, showed in 92% of mothers compared with 28% of fathers (p < 0.01). Sixty per cent of fathers were calm or indifferent compared with 4% of mothers (p < 0001). The adverse effects on mothers were accentuated by the husband's attitude to his wife, the reaction of in-laws, polygamy, poverty and societal influence. It is suggested that there is a need for public enlightenment programmes to educate parents of CLAP babies and the general public on management of CLAP deformity, and the establishment of centres to cater for the socio-psychological need of the people affected cannot be overemphasized. It is concluded that gender plays an important role in parents' reaction to the birth of CLAP babies; and that the adverse effects are greater on the mothers.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Benin, Nigeria

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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