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Cleft lip and palate

  • Alternative Names

    Cleft palate; Craniofacial defect


    Treatment

    Surgery to close the cleft lip is often done when the child is between 6 weeks and 9 months old. Surgery may be needed later in life if the problem has a big effect on the nose area. See also: Cleft lip and palate repair

    A cleft palate is usually closed within the first year of life so that the child's speech develops normally. Sometimes a prosthetic device is temporarily used to close the palate so the baby can feed and grow until surgery can be done.

    Continued follow-up may be needed with speech therapists and orthodontists.


    Support Groups

    For additional resources and information, see cleft palate support group.


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most babies will heal without problems. How your child will look after healing depends on the severity of the defect. Your child might need another surgery to fix the scar from the surgery wound.

    Children who had a cleft palate repair may need to see a dentist or orthodontist. The teeth may need to be corrected as they come in.

    Hearing problems are common in children with cleft lip or palate. Your child should have a hearing test early on, and it should be repeated over time.

    Your child may still have problems with speech after the surgery. This is caused by muscle problems in the palate. Speech therapy will help your child.


    Calling your health care provider

    Cleft lip and palate is usually diagnosed at birth. Follow the health care provider's recommendations for follow-up visits. Call if problems develop between visits.