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CLEFT TIMELINE

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Prenatal

Diagnosis of a cleft lip and/or cleft palate in a routine anatomy ultrasound. 

 

Referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine and put in contact with a cleft team.

 

Genetic counseling is offered.

 

 Education at this time should cover the many different types of clefts and potential causes. 

 

Caregivers should be educated on the ongoing care of children with a cleft need.

Birth-6 months

Newborn hearing screening is done at birth.  Referral to an ENT/Auditory specialist if needed.

 

Consultation with the cleft team shortly after birth.

Caregivers should be aware of the pre-surgical options available or what their

surgeon prefers such as: Taping, NAM, a Latham device, Nasal Elevator, or

obturator.

Cleft Lip Repair

  1. Can be accomplished in one surgery, sometimes takes two.

  2. Occurs after the baby has demonstrated steady weight gain and is healthy enough to go under anesthesia.

  3. Babies will stay overnight for observation.

  4. Your surgeon will give you aftercare instructions, which may include the following:

    • Temporarily using syringes before going back to breastfeeding (if palate isn’t affected) or bottle feeding.

    • Using arm immobilizers (no-no’s) to keep baby’s hands away from their mouth and faces.

    • Taking care of the surgical site.

    • Scheduling a post op check up.

Early intervention services start at birth and go to age 3 years old.

 

6 months-2 Years

Palate Repair

  1. Done between 6 and 18 months of age, preferring to wait until the child is closer to a year old if possible.  It is done prior to much speech development.  Timing can always vary due to additional factors and it’s important to keep in contact with your child’s care team.

  2. Requires one night observation in the hospital, but some children have issues eating and drinking which may result in a longer stay.

  3. There are a variety of aftercare instructions that come with palate repair, so caregivers need to be aware of what their surgeon recommends ahead of time.

    • Some surgeons allow children to go back to bottles after repair, whereas others don’t.  Parents are encouraged to assist their children in learning how to use a flat spout sippy cup with the valve removed, an open cup, or a tendercare feeder.  See helpful links for cup recommendations.

    • Diet restrictions should be implemented for a short period and may include liquified or pureed foods to start, then when cleared, moving on to soft foods.

    • Arm immobilizers (no-no’s) are frequently used after palate repair.

    • Nothing should go into the child’s mouth like toys, hands, toothbrushes, supply cup spouts, and spoons.  Soft coated baby spoons are recommended and should be lined up parallel to the lip to drop food in.

    • Caregivers should also exercise caution when administering medications via syringe.

 

Early intervention services, especially speech can be extremely beneficial to help children navigate the new sounds they can produce since their palate has been closed.

3-5 Years