Frequently Asked Questions

Is my  baby getting enough milk?

One of the first challenges the family faces is feeding their newborn with a cleft lip/palate. In our clinic the nurses and speech- language pathologist (SLP) have special expertise in feeding. Suggestions will be offered to help you feed your baby more effectively (for example: nipple modification, correct positioning and frequent burping). The team welcomes a working relationship with the child’s community health care provider. Our pediatric team will periodically monitor your child’s growth and development, but routine visits to your child’s PCP are still very important.

What kind of surgical treatment is necessary?

Individual treatment plans must be developed for the unique needs of each child. We will address questions you have about your child’s condition. Our center offers the expertise of plastic, reconstructive, and craniofacial surgeons as well as oral and maxillofacial surgeons. These doctors are specialists in surgery of the head, face, and mouth.

Are hearing tests important for my child?

Infants born with a cleft palate or other craniofacial differences are likely to have frequent middle ear problems resulting in hearing loss which is often temporary. Some children may exhibit permanent inner ear hearing loss. Hearing loss or frequent middle ear problems can cause delays in speech and language development, educational advancement, and cognitive and psychosocial development. The otolaryngologist and audiologist focus their efforts on early detection and management of hearing loss and prevention of middle ear infections from progressing into more serious problems. These specialists routinely administer medical examinations and hearing tests to prevent developmental problems from occurring in the future.

How can I help my child talk?

The ability to produce speech is influenced by the structures of the mouth and nose. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the specialist involved in evaluating your child’s speech. Your SLP may also suggest some language activities for you to do with your child at home. It is important for you to talk and interact with your baby as well as to have your child’s hearing monitored. When your child is about three years old, your SLP will be able to determine whether the palate has been sufficiently repaired for normal speech. At that time, your SLP will work with other team members to develop a comprehensive treatment plan so that your child will be able to communicate effectively. Many children with cleft lip/palate do not need speech therapy. However, if your child develops a speech problem, our goal is to normalize speech as much as possible before your child enters school.

Will my child require dental care?

Early attention to your child’s dental health and development is important for appearance as well as for chewing and speech. The pediatric dentist is a member of the craniofacial team who coordinates the treatment plan of oral/dental health, orthodontics, and any prosthetic care that may be required. It is the dental team’s philosophy that dental care begins when your child’s baby teeth first appear.

What experiences will my child have at school?

Medical absences may interfere with keeping up with school work. Your child may also have difficulty coping with questions asked by peers about appearances. A pediatric clinical psychologist will meet with you regarding the emotional, social, and educational development of your child. The psychologist may work with you to help ensure appropriate transition during the periods when your child may be facing surgery or other rehabilitative therapies.

What options are available for payment of services?

The UF Clinics accept payment from a variety of third-party payers/insurances. The clinic coordinator can advise you regarding your particular coverage. Children’s Medical Services is a state agency which sponsors many of the children seen at the UF clinics. The social worker, clinic coordinator, or the nurse can assist you with the referral.

What can I expect from future pregnancies?

Our clinical geneticist is available to meet with you to discuss the likely cause of your child’s condition as well as to provide insight into the probability of you having another child with a similar condition. In addition, the geneticist meets with teenage and young adult patients who are seeking information on the probability of them having a baby with a condition similar to their own. Knowing the underlying cause of a disorder and the chance of transmitting the condition helps parents and patients make more informed choices about family planning.

What support groups are available?

Our center has an organized family network to meet the needs of patients, parents, and siblings. A support group is a good place to get practical help, share information, and offer help to other parents. At our center, the SLP, social worker, and clinic coordinator can direct you to a support group located in your area. They also can provide you with useful resources about financial aid, medical benefits, and health insurance for your family.