Babies born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, which are among the most common birth defects, need individualized care from a team of health professionals that may continue to adulthood.
A clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published in the May 2017 Pediatrics, "The Primary Care Pediatrician and the Care of Children with Cleft Lift and/or Cleft Palate" (published online April 24), helps pediatricians orchestrate this multi-faceted care to help patients achieve the best outcomes.
Initial reconstructive surgeries for cleft lip or cleft palate typically occur within the first year of life, according to the AAP. A cleft lip usually is repaired between 3 and 6 months of age, and a cleft palate is fixed between 9 and 14 months. If there is a separation in the gum line, it usually is repaired when a child is 8-10 years of age.
Beyond surgical needs to be able to eat well, children with cleft lip or cleft palate may have ear deformities that require hearing specialists, dental needs that need specialized orthodontic and oral health treatment, and speech difficulties that benefit from therapy.