Female doctor checking a young child's heartbeat

So Your Child Can Find Their Smile

We’re here to help empower you and your child to find your smile again and feel confident inside and out.

Cleft lip and palate are the most common birth defects that affect a baby’s face. But that doesn’t make the diagnosis any easier for parents to navigate. 

At AdventHealth for Children, we have cared for thousands of children with cleft lip-and palate-related conditions. We’re here to answer your questions, discuss your child’s treatment options and create a plan that’s best for your baby.

Our craniofacial team is backed by a network of over 140 pediatric specialists that work together to help treat your child with the utmost care and compassion.

We’re here to help you find the right physician or a location that’s convenient for you.

Finding Answers for Your Questions

From the first moment you realize your life is going to change to the first moment you hear that precious heartbeat, you imagine every inch of your new baby. 

A cleft lip or cleft palate diagnosis can be surprising, but our caring and experienced team is here for you. We have unmatched skills and expertise across Florida to offer the care, support and surgery your child may need.

And more than that, we’ll be here to help you find the answers, hope and healing you need to celebrate your child.

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What Should I Know About Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate?

Cleft lip and cleft palate are facial and oral malformations that happen very early in pregnancy while your baby is still developing. 

A cleft lip is the separation of the two sides of the upper lip area and appears as an opening or gap in the skin of the upper lip. Often, this extends beyond the base of the nose to the upper jaw and gums. 

A cleft palate involves an opening in the roof of the mouth. Our highly trained craniofacial surgeons have extensive experience in the surgical repair of cleft lip and palate to help restore your child’s health and smiles.

The underlying cause of cleft lift and palate is still widely unknown. It’s important that you, as the parent, don’t feel like you’re to blame for the anomaly. While it’s suggested these conditions could be genetic, it’s still very much a mystery.

How Common Are Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Conditions?

These conditions are among the most common types of birth defects in the United States, affecting one in every 700 babies each year. 

Some kinds of clefts happen more than others:

  • Cleft lip affects roughly one in every 1,500 newborns
  • Isolated cleft palate affects 1 in every 2,000 newborns
What Causes Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Conditions?

Most cleft lips and palates aren’t linked with anything that happens during or after pregnancy. A few exceptions include:

  • Smoking while pregnant makes the risk of cleft lip twice as likely to occur
  • Taking Phenytoin (Dilantin) during pregnancy makes cleft lip ten times more likely to occur
  • Using alcohol, antiseizure medicines or vitamin A (retinoic acid) is linked with birth defects, including cleft lip and palate

There’s also a greater chance of having a child with a cleft if a parent or sibling has one.

How Are Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Treated?

All children with cleft lip and palate will require some surgical intervention within the first year of life. Our expert team of physicians will be by your side every step of the way, helping you understand your child’s treatment options, make important care decisions, ensure minimal discomfort and work toward optimal outcomes.

Cleft Lip Repair
Cleft lip repair is performed as early as three months of age, and may require one or two surgeries, depending on the extent of the malformation. 

Cleft Palate Repair
Cleft palate repair is performed between 10 and 12 months of age and is a bit more complex. It may also require multiple surgeries over the course of the child’s childhood, up to 18 years of age, including a bone graft on the upper gum line at around eight years of age to support the growth of permanent teeth.

In the days following surgery, you can expect:

  • Discomfort (such as itching) around stitches
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Swelling around the surgical areas

So, it’s likely your child will be irritable. Pain medicine for the first several days will help. You should also talk with your surgeon if you feel your child needs a little extra support, such as prescription nasal spray. 

In most circumstances, children are back to their happy selves approximately a week after surgery, with incisions healing at about one-month post-operation.

Will My Child Be Able to Eat Properly?

Eventually, your child will be able to eat normally. Before and immediately following cleft palate surgery, your child may need help. But with the help of your pediatrician, nurses and specialists, this can be overcome.

Will My Child’s Teeth Grow Normally?

The growth of your child’s teeth won’t be affected by their cleft lip or palate. However, it’s sometimes recommended that a child with a cleft palate receive a bone graft along their gum line to help support the growth of their permanent teeth. Your team of specialists will help you make informed decisions about this possibility.

Will My Insurance Provider Cover the Cost of the Surgery?

It’s very likely your insurance provider will cover many of the costs of cleft lip or palate surgery. There are also special agencies to help with these specific conditions. If you need more information about covering the costs of these procedures, ask our support staff for assistance. We’ll be glad to help you.

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Experienced Care for Your Child

Get access to proven approaches for correcting cleft lip and cleft palate in your baby. Find a plastic surgeon near you and learn more about our surgical outcomes.

Why Choose Us

At AdventHealth for Children, our team of plastic and reconstructive surgeons care for your child’s and family’s body, mind and spirit with comprehensive, compassionate care.