What is a cleft?
A cleft occurs early in the pregnancy when parts of the face do not come together. A cleft lip is an opening in the lip that may extend into the nose. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth.

What caused my baby to have a cleft?
The exact cause of a cleft is not known at this time but there may be many contributing factors. As a parent, it is important to remember that you did not do something to cause the cleft.

Are a cleft lip and palate common?
One in every 650 newborns is affected by a cleft. Cleft lip and palate are the fourth most common birth defect in the United States.

How will my baby's cleft be corrected?
A cleft can be closed. A lip repair or closure is usually performed around three months of age and a palate repair usually occurs somewhere around the child's first birthday. The best time to perform the surgical closure depends on the health of your child and is determined individually for each child.

Whom should my child see for care?
A general recommendation is for your child to be seen by a Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Team. The team should consist of a group of cleft specialists committed to meeting the needs of the family. Your team will work closely together to develop a plan of care to meet all of your child's needs. Please review our list of services and our team members, consisting of UF faculty and other medical personnel.

Is my baby able to feed from a regular bottle?
There are specially developed bottles available for cleft lip/palate babies. A hospital feeding specialist or the cleft lip and palate team nurse may be consulted to assist you with your feeding concerns. With patience and time, you will become more comfortable.

Will my baby require speech therapy?
After closure of the cleft, some speech therapy may be required. If your child already has speech difficulties prior to the surgery or if speech difficulties develop, a speech pathologist may be recommended so your child will achieve normal speech.

How can I find other families that understand my fears and concerns?
You will have an opportunity to meet other family members at the team's quarterly parent support functions. We also have a parent support group and encourage you to get involved and attend meetings. The team nurse coordinator can also help link you with a family that has experienced similar concerns associated with a cleft lip and/or palate.

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