Abnormal Lip and Mouth Development

Pediatric cleft lip and palate are congenital disabilities that occur when your child's lip or mouth do not formerly properly during their development. The condition may include a cleft palate, a cleft lip or both.

  • A cleft lip happens when the lip tissue doesn't join completely before birth, causing a gap or opening in your child's upper lip.
  • Cleft palate occurs when the tissue that makes up the roof of your child’s mouth doesn’t join correctly, leaving the back, front or both sections of your child’s palate open.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

A cleft lip or palate is typically identifiable at birth. They may appear as:

  • A split in the roof of your child’s mouth and lip that affects one or both sides of their face
  • A split in the lip that looks like a small slit and extends from your child’s lip through their upper gum and palate into the bottom of their nose
  • A split in the roof of the out that doesn’t affect your child’s appearance

Most pediatric cleft lip and palate are diagnosed after your child is born. In some cases, routine prenatal ultrasound may reveal the condition.

Pediatric cleft lip and palate can cause challenges with feeding and talking for many children with the condition. Surgery can close the lip and palate and is usually done before your child’s second birthday. With proper treatment and follow up care, most children with this condition lead healthy lives.

Why Choose Penn State Health Children’s Hospital for Care

Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital offers care for pediatric cleft and palate lip through the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic. The facility is the longest-running freestanding multidisciplinary clinic of its kind. It serves as the model for similar clinics across the country and around the world.

Our multidisciplinary team provides comprehensive care for children with complicated clinical problems, including:

  • Pierre Robin sequence – several facial and jaw abnormalities present at birth
  • 22 q deletion syndrome – occurs when a tiny bit of genetic material is missing from part of chromosome 22
  • Congenital trismus – limited mouth movement or lockjaw
  • Retrognathia – receding jaw that affects the top, bottom or both jaws
  • Macroglossia/Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome – an unusually large tongue
  • Macrostomia facial cleft – characterized by an unusually wide mouth

Complete Care for Complex Issues

Care for pediatric cleft and palate requires advanced surgical skills and access to leading-edge technology. The experts at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital use both to provide complex surgeries, including:

  • Cleft lip and palate repair
  • Alveolar bone grafting to add bone to the gum ridge
  • Cleft lip nasal surgery
  • Palatal lengthening to improve contact between the soft palate and the back of the throat
  • Orthognathic (jaw) surgery
  • Distraction osteogenesis to slowly move apart two sections of bone so new bone will grow between them

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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