Cleft Lip and Palate Program

Long-term Care for Patients with Cleft Lip and Palate

After successful surgical repair of cleft lip and/or cleft palate, Cleft Lip and Palate Program patients will return to our clinic for yearly appointments that will include meetings with specialists, an overall health assessment, and surgical follow-up. Once a patient has reached maturity and completed all of the procedures and treatment, he is generally discharged from annual clinic visits.

From the moment your child enters our program, our multidisciplinary team partners with your pediatrician or primary care physician to provide coordinated care, making treatment recommendations according to each patient’s unique needs.

Our program brings together a variety of pediatric specialists, all with extensive experience treating children with cleft lip and palate. Your child’s long-term care will include:

Surgical follow-up

Your plastic surgeon will monitor for potential complications (such as formation of fistulas or openings of palate into nose) to determine if any additional palatal procedures are needed. Because the nature of cleft lip and palate makes it possible that a patient will require surgery later in life, we continue to follow our patients in the long term.

Speech and language assessments

Shortly after birth, a speech and language pathologist will evaluate your child’s feeding skills and oral-motor development to determine the need for any specific treatment or procedures. In the early years, our team will partner with your pediatrician to monitor for delays in speech and language development, and make any appropriate referrals for early intervention.

Around 3 years of age, when children have the ability to follow directions and speak in sentences, we begin yearly speech and language evaluations during clinic visits to assess palatal function. Due to changes in the growth of the face and oral structures as your child grows, routine evaluations continue through the teen years to monitor language development, articulation and vocal quality.

Our internationally recognized speech pathologists work with your plastic surgeon, orthodontist and dentist to plan individualized treatment needed to improve your child’s communication skills and make recommendations for speech therapy or surgery as needed.

Audiology assessments

A hearing specialist will provide periodic reports that are used in coordination with evaluations by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to care for repeated ear infections or hearing loss that frequently accompany cleft palate. The ENT specialist may recommend the surgical placement of ventilating tubes in the eardrum to prevent fluid build-up and lessen the occurrence of infections and hearing loss.

Dental and orthodontic care

Our dental and orthodontic specialists keep track of your child’s dental growth and development, making recommendations regarding proper care for developing teeth, as well as the timing of any necessary surgical procedures or corrective orthodontics. Our specialists will partner with your primary care physicians and other specialists to meet each patient’s dental and orthodontic needs.

Psychosocial counseling and support

A dedicated psychologist is available to evaluate patients for potential academic, psychological and personal difficulties that may accompany a craniofacial condition. Our specialists can offer supportive therapy and provide guidance in dealing with peers and relatives, as well as make appropriate referrals for comprehensive evaluation and intervention.

 

July 2013

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