Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Q & A on Cleft Lip and Palate

We have had a number of people write in with questions on cleft lip and palate. Below is some information from the cleft section in our Special Needs Manual. If you have any other questions please leave them below in the comments section and we will be happy to answer them.


  • Cleft lip or palate is not caused by something the mother or father did or did not do.
  • In the normal course of development, structures simply do not close as is typical.
  • A child with cleft lip/palate may have difficulty speaking clearly
  • A child with cleft lip/palate may sound as if he or she speaks through her nose
  • A child with cleft lip/palate may have difficulty eating
  • Food may come through the nose of a child with cleft lip/palate
  • A child with cleft lip/palate may have frequent middle ear infections
  • A child with cleft palate may tend to have dental cavities
  • Cleft lip is a split on either one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). This split may be slight indentation to a full split to the nose.
  • Cleft palate is a hole in the roof of the mouth and can include both hard and soft palate or just hard.
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate may occur separately or together.


  • Cleft lip/palate may be surgically corrected
  • Middle ear infections may be treated by a physician
  • Speech therapy may help the child to speak more clearly
  • Good brushing of the teeth is very important
  • Child should be held in an upright position in a high chair.
  • If food comes out of the nose, child should be seated upright, chin tucked toward chest, shoulders pulled forward
  • Child should be fed thick foods such as thicker congee that is chilled or room temperature.
  • Child should use a cup with a side cut out.
  • The head should not tilt back to take sips.
  • A specially designed bottle may be needed.
  • If a special bottle is not available use a squeezable bottle with an orthodontic nipple and cut a larger X hole.
  • Baby should be burped frequently
  • Baby will take longer period of time to feed, 20-30 minutes to take a 2-3 ounce bottle is normal.
  • Baby may need to eat smaller amounts but feed more often such as early morning, midmorning, lunch, midafternoon, early evening, and later evening.

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