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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Craniofacial/Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate Program

Having a child born with a cleft lip and palate or other similar health issue can be very upsetting to parents. If you are a parent of a child with a cleft lip and palate it is normal to feel overwhelmed. But it is important to know that CMS is here to help you and your baby.

CMS has a program to help you get health care for your baby and to find the right doctors and nurses to care for your child. Taking care of your child will require a special team to provide several different types of services, such as surgery, dental/orthodontic care, and speech therapy, all of which need to be provided in a coordinated manner over a period of years. This coordinated care is provided by team of healthcare professionals who work together to make sure your child recovers. Your local CMS office can help you locate the team that is most convenient for you.

child blowing bubblesAs a leader in your child's health care team, it may be helpful for you to understand a few facts about cleft lip and palate. Cleft lip and cleft palate is the most common birth defect in the United States. One of every 600 newborns is affected by cleft lip and/or cleft palate. A cleft lip is a separation of the two sides of the lip. The separation often includes the bones of the upper jaw and/or upper gum. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth in which the two sides of the palate did not fuse, or join together, as the unborn baby was developing. Cleft lip and cleft palate can occur on one side (unilateral cleft lip and/or palate), or on both sides (bilateral cleft lip and/or palate). Because the lip and the palate develop separately, it is possible for the child to have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both cleft lip and cleft palate.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are congenital defects, or birth defects, which occur very early in pregnancy. The majority of clefts appear to be due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. CMS is here to help you understand your child's condition more fully and to help you find the people you need to help both you and your child.

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