Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a cleft?

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. These conditions occur early in pregnancy when parts of the developing face do not come together.

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 anything to cause the cleft.

Are cleft lips and palates common?

One in every 650 newborns is affected by a cleft. Cleft lips and palates are the fourth most common birth defect in the United States. The condition is hereditary in some children.

How will my baby's cleft be corrected?

A cleft can be closed. A lip repair or closure is usually performed around three to six months of age and a palate repair near 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.

Who should my child see for care?

It is recommended that your child be seen by a Pediatric Cleft Lip and Palate Team. The team should consist of a group of specialists committed to meeting the needs of your family. Your team will work closely together to develop a plan of care to meet all of your child's and family's needs. Please review our list of services and team members, who include University of Florida/Jacksonville physicians and other community-based specialists who practice at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Will my baby be able to feed from a regular bottle?

There are special bottles available for babies with cleft lips and/or palates. A hospital feeding specialist and/or the Team nurse will be consulted to assist you with your feeding concerns. With patience and time, and with the support of the Team, you will become more comfortable with feeding and your baby will thrive.

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.


Wolfson Children's Logo Click here to find out more about Baptist Health