Reuters has a summary about the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cleft palate in children. Two otolaryngologists from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Drs. Todd D. Otteson and Jacob G. Robison studied the issue.
The physicians note that OSA is more common in children with cleft palate, whether or not they have a cleft lip, because of the anatomic differences caused by the birth defect and cleft palate surgery, which can reduce airway size. Symptoms of OSA seem to occur most commonly after cleft palate surgical repair, especially the pharyngeal flap procedure for velopharyngeal insufficiency (which can cause speech and swallowing difficulties).
The physicians suggest that surgeons who treat patients with cleft palate will have to weigh the risk of OSA and the need to improve the patient's speech surgically. They also recommends screening for signs and symptoms of OSA and to consider a sleep study if indicated.