A REDDITCH mum has set up a new support group for families affected by cleft lip and/or palate in Worcestershire.

Selena Foster was inspired to set up the group after her daughter Lorena, who is now 18 months old, was born with a cleft lip and palate.

1 in 700 babies is born with a cleft, and this can cause problems with feeding, hearing and speech. Children may go through several operations, and often have their first operation at around 16 weeks old. The condition may be diagnosed at a 20 week antenatal scan and the cause is unknown.

The group, Redditch Happy Faces, has been set up by Mrs Foster, with the support of the national charity the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) and the local NHS Cleft Lip and Palate Service for the West Midlands.

Mrs Foster said: “When Lorena was born we had so many questions and I really wanted to meet with other parents in a similar situation.

"I am delighted to have set up this group which will provide somewhere for local families affected by cleft to get together and support each other.”

The West Midlands Regional Cleft Service manager, Senga David, said “We are so pleased this group is launching in Redditch – we know how valuable it is for families to meet other parents and children and we are encouraging our patients to attend."

Redditch Happy Faces will hold friendly, informal monthly meetings where families can get together to support each other and share their experiences.

The group is open to anyone affected by cleft lip and/or palate, including expectant parents, and is free of charge. The group will meet on the first Friday of every month, from 10-11.30am, at Holly Trees Children’s Centre, Mabey Avenue, Redditch. The first meeting takes place on Friday, May 2.

For further information, contact Becky Gowers, CLAPA Central England regional co-ordinator, on 07792 772 362 or email becky.gowers@clapa.com.