Cleft Lip and Palate

Whether your child has been diagnosed with a cleft lip, a cleft palate or both, the Stanford Children’s Health Cleft and Craniofacial Center has a team of experienced surgeons, physicians, dentists, orthodontists and other experts who are eager to provide the most effective cleft lip and palate treatments for your child.

What is cleft lip and palate?

Occasionally, the lip and the roof of the mouth, or palate, do not form properly during fetal development. This is usually discovered right after an infant is born or spotted in an ultrasound prior to birth. Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects thought to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors, suggesting there is little parents can do to prevent the conditions. However, if your child has cleft lip or palate, it is extremely important that you consult a team of experienced medical professionals. If insufficiently treated, cleft lip or palate can cause lasting dental, nutrition, hearing and speech problems.

How is cleft lip and palate treated?

Fortunately, the Cleft and Craniofacial Center has an experienced and world-renowned team that is ready to treat your child. Cleft lip or palate are usually corrected with a series of repair surgeries that start when patients are about 3 months old and finish when patients are in their late teens. The Cleft and Craniofacial Center’s plastic surgery team has countless years of experience performing these procedures. In many cases, infants are also treated with pre-surgical nasal alveolar molding, which uses a fitted device to shape the gums and nose prior to the first surgery for repairing the cleft lip or palate. The Cleft and Craniofacial Center’s orthodontists specialize in this procedure. Patients may also need specialized dental and orthodontic care, speech therapy, hearing tests, genetic tests and more, all of which the Cleft and Craniofacial Center is equipped to provide.

Cleft lip or palate are complex but treatable conditions, and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health is uniquely well suited to provide your child with the multidisciplinary care he or she needs. The team works with patients all through their childhood, and different specialists will work together to ensure your child is receiving the most effective treatment available while making the process as painless for families as possible.

Conditions that may be associated with cleft lip or palate include:

  • Velocardiofacial syndrome (chromosome 22q11.2 deletion)
  • Robin sequence
  • Stickler syndrome
  • Van der Woude syndrome
  • Frontonasal dysplasia