When portions of the lip or roof of the mouth (palate) don't fuse together during pregnancy it leaves a gap, or cleft. About one in 700 babies is born with this condition, making cleft lip and palate the most common birth defect of the head and neck.
A cleft lip can range from a small notch in the red part of the lip (microforme cleft lip) to two wide gaps in the upper lip and a collapsed and stretched nose (complete bilateral cleft lip). A cleft palate — a gap along the middle of the roof of the mouth — can only be seen when the child's mouth is open.
Children's multidisciplinary approach to cleft lip and palate provides an ideal environment for an infant with a cleft. A craniofacial pediatrician oversees the care of each child, creating a treatment plan tailored to the child's condition and then coordinating care among the other specialists on the child's care team.
The team includes a surgeon, orthodontist, speech-language pathologist and at least one specialist from otolaryngology, audiology, pediatrics, genetics, social work, psychology and pediatric or prosthetic dentistry. The team meets regularly to evaluate and develop treatment plans for its patients, always striving to reduce surgeries and improve overall outcomes.
Learn more about Children's Craniofacial Center.