Cleft lip (cheiloschisis) and cleft palate (palatoschisis) are among the most common birth defects affecting children in North America. The incomplete formation of the upper lip (cleft lip) or roof of the mouth (cleft palate) can occur individually, or both defects may occur together. The conditions can vary in severity and may involve one or both sides of the face.
A cleft, or separation of the upper lip and/or the roof of the mouth, occurs very early in the development of your unborn child. During fetal development, certain components of the upper lip and roof of the mouth fail to form normally. Cleft lip and cleft palate repair is a type of plastic surgery to correct this abnormal development both to restore function and to restore a more normal appearance.
Most clefts can be repaired through specialized plastic surgery techniques, improving your child’s ability to eat, speak, hear and breathe, and to restore a more normal appearance and function.
A team of specialists can help
Early intervention by a team of specialists to evaluate your child is essential in cleft lip and/or cleft palate repair. The team can work together to deﬁne a course of treatment, including surgical repair of the cleft, speech rehabilitation and dental restoration. These specialists may include a:
- Plastic surgeon
- Pediatric dentist
- Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist)
- Auditory or hearing specialist
- Speech pathologist
- Genetic counselor
- Social worker