Members of the team include specialists from various areas including UI Department of Otolaryngology, UI Department of General Surgery, Pediatrics, Genetics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Child Psychology, Social Services, and Pediatric Dentistry. Other specialists that may be involved in your child’s care include anesthesiologists, dietitians/nutritionists, neurosurgeons, occupational therapists, ophthalmologists, and radiologists.


The audiologist tests hearing and suggests treatment if needed. Most hearing loss in children with cleft palate is of a temporary nature related to chronic fluid in the middle ear. Hearing loss due to other conditions is also seen in this population and may require medical/surgical intervention or the use of hearing aids. Early identification and intervention in these children is important to insure maximum speech, language, and learning development.

Cleft Surgeon (Pediatric Otolaryngologist or Plastic Surgeon)

The cleft surgeon is responsible for planning, performing and following the majority of the surgery the patient may need. Explains the need and timing of procedures including ear care. The primary surgeries performed include lip repair, palate repair, pharyngeal flap, alveolar bone grafting, nasal reconstruction and lip revision.


The nurse’s role is related to feeding techniques and provision of emotional support to the family. Feeding is followed closely with phone calls and visits until the weight gain is steady and feeding is comfortable. The nurse also gives general information to the parents regarding surgical procedure, hospitalization, admission procedure, anesthesia and postoperative care following procedures.

Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon

Treat defects and deformities of the jaws. Treatment may include bone grafting to the alveolar ridge (tooth supporting portion of the upper jaw). It many also be necessary to perform orthognathic (jaw) surgery to provide optimal position of the upper/lower jaws and produce adequate occlusion of the teeth.


The orthodontist explains how the cleft affects growth and development of the face and teeth from birth to adulthood. Helps to diagnose and guide appropriate timing for orthodontic therapy.

Pediatric Dentistry

Emphasis of care is on prevention of oral disease and maintenance of good oral and dental hygiene. Pediatric dentistry provides continuous, comprehensive and coordinate orofacial care to infants, children, adolescents, and young adults throughout the years of growth and development.

Pediatric Genetics

The pediatric geneticist has the dual role of providing an overall and ongoing assessment of the general pediatric health of the child and whether other clinical services need to be involved or have the timing of their involvement changed. In addition they provide an assessment of possible causes of the clefting disorder, including both genetic and non-genetic components. They may suggest additional testing and provide for family genetic counseling and ongoing follow-up when indicated. Reviews pre-natal and family history and explain risks with future pregnancies.


The psychologist performs evaluations of development, learning, or adjustment when indicated. Addresses behavior disorders or emotional maladjustment due to social difficulties that may arise secondary to speech difficulty/facial differences.

Social Services

Social services is able to provide information related to cost of care and medical assistance. Helps with identification of local agency assistance.

Speech Pathologist

The speech pathologist provides the family with information concerning normal speech and language development. Evaluates language and articulation skills to see if speech problems are related to physical limitations or related to learning. A variety of diagnostic technologies may be used to accurately measure anatomical function before or after surgery.