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Cleft Lip and Palate: Craniofacial Care

Why choose Ochsner Health for your child’s cleft lip and palate care?

When your child has a cleft lip or palate, you need expert care. Fortunately, Ochsner Health has provided cleft lip and palate care to residents of Louisiana and Mississippi since 1988.

For each patient, we strive for a scar-free appearance with no sign of surgery. Over the years, our comprehensive cleft lip and palate team has helped countless children reach that goal. With a multidisciplinary approach, we do more than help your child look great. We also help them speak, eat and thrive.

Ochsner provides expert cleft lip and palate care to families across Louisiana and Mississippi and beyond. Find a location near you.

When it’s difficult to travel to us, we come to your living room. From prenatal visits to treatment planning to post-operative assessment, many appointments can occur virtually. All you need is a strong internet connection and a smartphone or computer. Ask your cleft care team if your next appointment can be a virtual visit.

Approximately 1 in 700 American children are born with a cleft lip or palate. This birth defect occurs when the baby's upper lip or palate (roof of the mouth) don’t fuse together as they should. When babies with this condition do not receive treatment, they can have difficulties speaking clearly and eating. Ear infections may also be a problem, and hearing loss may develop.

Along with cleft lip and palate care, Ochsner provides diagnosis and treatment for many conditions affecting the face and head shape.

Conditions we treat that affect the face include:

  • 22q deletion syndrome
  • Ear tags and skin tags
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Hemifacial microsomia
  • Malocclusion
  • Neonatal ear malformations
  • Pierre Robin sequence
  • Treacher Collins syndrome

Conditions we care for that cause abnormal head shape include:

  • Positional/deformational plagiocephaly
  • Apert syndrome
  • Carpenter syndrome
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Crouzon syndrome
  • Frontonasal dysplasia / hypertelorism
  • Noonan syndrome
  • Pfeiffer syndrome
  • Syndromic craniosynostosis

With proper treatment, the cleft lip and palate can be repaired. If your ultrasound shows your baby will be born with a cleft lip or palate, our team contacts you during pregnancy. We then meet to begin planning your child’s treatment. We’ll teach you about feeding your baby and provide you with special bottles to make feeding easier.

Sometimes, children with cleft lip and palate and other related issues benefit from noninvasive treatment. Nasoalveolar molding brings cleft lips and palates closer together before surgery. Using a retainer-like device, nasoalveolar molding gently approximates the dental arch and improves the nasal tip, decreasing the scar burden at the time of surgery.

Surgical treatment usually begins shortly after birth. Common procedures that help children with cleft lip and palate include the following:

  • Cleft lip repair. The two sides of the cleft lip are surgically repaired. Ideally, this occurs between 3 and 5 months of age. It is typically the first surgery performed on children with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
  • Cleft palate repair. This is typically performed between 11 and 13 months of age. A cleft palate repair involves realignment of the soft palate musculature and closure of the cleft.
  • Alveolar bone grafts. A cleft lip and palate can result in missing bone in the gums and lead to dental problems later in life. This procedure grafts missing bone into your child’s mouth to hold teeth in place.
  • Dental and jaw alignment. A misaligned jaw or teeth are corrected to improve speech and eating.

Some types of cleft palate (such as submucous cleft palate) may not be diagnosed until later in life. If they don’t cause issues with speech or eating, treatment is sometimes not necessary.

Through Ochsner’s multidisciplinary craniofacial team and cleft lip and palate services, we care for all your child’s unique needs. Team members who may participate in your child’s care journey include the following pediatric specialists:

  • Cleft team coordinators (your point of contact who assists with insurance coverage, scheduling and more)
  • Craniofacial and reconstructive surgeons
  • Orthodontists
  • Social workers

To make your experience as convenient and seamless as possible, we offer a Craniofacial Clinic. Here, your child meets with multiple specialists for a full evaluation. By meeting with multiple specialists in a single visit at a single location, you save time and energy so you can return home and get back to life.

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Map of Ochsner-affiliated facilities that provide services related to Cleft Lip and Palate: Craniofacial Care

Cleft Lip and Palate: Craniofacial Care Locations

Ochsner Health Center for Children - Hattiesburg
421 South 28th Ave. , Suite 110
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Ochsner Medical Complex - The Grove
10310 The Grove Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70836
  • Monday–Friday: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Ochsner Health Center for Children - Lafayette
1016 Coolidge St.
Lafayette, LA 70503
  • Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m.-noon
Ochsner Health Center - Slidell Campus Bldg. 2
105 Medical Center Drive, North Shore Two Bldg.
Slidell, LA 70461
Ochsner Children's Hospital
1514 Jefferson Highway
New Orleans, LA 70121
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Health Center - Covington
1000 Ochsner Blvd.
Covington, LA 70433
  • Mon–Fri: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.