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Cleft lip and palate treatment

Cleft lip and palate treatment

Cleft lip and palate treatment

Facial clefts occur in nearly one out of 600 births in the United States and are the most common birth defects treated by pediatric plastic surgeons. A child can be born having an isolated cleft lip, an isolated cleft palate or a combination of the two. Clefts of the lip and palate are complex conditions that pose challenges for children, such as feeding difficulties, speech development, oral hygiene, dental problems and social interaction.

Comprehensive and collaborative approach to care

The Cronin and Brauer cleft lip and palate clinic at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston is a place where a child with a cleft lip and/or palate can receive all needed services within a single location at the hospital – a place where children are seen by any related specialist all in a single day – a place where these services are provided to children from birth to after high school.

The cleft lip and palate program has been serving children in Houston and Galveston for over 27 years. The multidisciplinary cleft lip and palate team at the Cronin and Brauer clinic works collaboratively to ensure the most successful outcomes from their treatment plans. At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston, children receive the surgeries they may need, speech therapy, hearing testing, dental and orthodontic care, genetic counseling, and psychiatry and psychology services all in one place.

Measured stages of care are maintained to provide best outcomes without interfering with physical and developmental milestones. Patients are followed continually through their various medical interventions, whether they be surgical, psychological or speech therapy. Care is coordinated and individualized to meet each child’s needs and objectives.


The goal of the cleft lip and palate team is for each child to have the best possible outcomes in function and appearance. It is important to us that every child is comfortable with their peers and able to “blend in." Successful final outcomes are for patients to have regular, daily interactions where no one would ever know that they had any differences – not just in how they look, but also in how they are understood, addressing any speech or hearing defects.

Living and managing

Living with cleft lip and/or palate can be challenging for children. The stigma of an abnormal appearing lip or speech production can be difficult to cope with. With attentive team care and intervention (usually surgical), these children do very well and develop normally. It is a long road of treatment and it is important for both the patient and family to understand that they are not alone. The Cronin and Brauer cleft lip and palate clinic team has the knowledge, resources and time required to help them through the process.