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Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

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Diagnosing and Treating Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

Many cases of cleft lip/cleft palate are diagnosed once a child is born, but more and more often the birth defects are being diagnosed on a prenatal ultrasound. Parents with a family history of cleft lip/cleft palate often seek genetic counseling before conception or during pregnancy to determine the risk to their baby.

Treatment Options
Children born with cleft lip/cleft palate often require the care of several specialists.  Many children with orofacial clefts are treated by a craniofacial team that provides coordinated care by a group of specialists trained and experienced in treating children with cleft lip and/or palate.  These specialists may include:

  • A surgeon (plastic surgeon, oral maxillofacial surgeon, or neurosurgeon)
  • A pediatric dentist or other dental specialist (for example, a prosthodontist, who makes prosthetic devices for the mouth)
  • An orthodontist (to straighten the teeth and align the jaws
  • A speech-language pathologist (to assist with feeding problems and speech therapy)
  • An audiologist (to assess hearing)
  • A geneticist (to screen patients for craniofacial syndromes and help parents and adult patients understand recurrence risks)
  • An otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor)
  • An ophthalmologist (eye doctor to treat eye conditions sometimes associated with craniofacial conditions)

The coordination required among the many specialists is good reason for a child to be treated within a craniofacial program at a major medical center, where experts in cleft lip/cleft palate work together to plan and implement an integrated treatment strategy. (See Surgery for Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate.)

Find out more about the Craniofacial Program at the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center, or to make an appointment for an evaluation contact program coordinator Charlotte Palmero
at 212-746-1274 or email chp2027@med.cornell.edu.

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Reviewed by Vikash Modi, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: November 2014