Cleft Lip and Palate

Advice for health professionals

The parents and individuals we spoke to about their experiences of being affected by cleft lip and/or palate were generally very satisfied with the standard and availability of care within the U.K. regional cleft services.

However, based on their extensive experiences of communicating with health professionals, parents of children born with clefts and those who themselves were born with a cleft had some advice that they wanted to give to health professionals. This included information about the way in which care in the cleft service is delivered as well as a need for greater sensitivity and awareness among general and specialist staff. 

The advice of the people we interviewed was intended for cleft specialists, sonographers, General Practitioners, health visitors and midwives. This advice was related to the diagnosis of a cleft (see ‘Diagnosis and breaking the news’), ‘Feeding a baby born with a cleft’, meeting with the multidisciplinary team (MDT), ‘Pre-operative care and surgery’ and all stages of the ‘Cleft treatment pathway’. There was also a need for more awareness among health professionals who may not be cleft specialists such as Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists (see; ‘Speech, language and hearing’, Jenny’s Interview below).
There were also comments relating to ‘Late diagnosis of cleft’ and other conditions associated with cleft lip and/or palate (see ‘Cleft and other conditions’). As a cleft palate cannot be detected at the 20 week antenatal scan it is the responsibility of a health professional to look at the babies’ palate at birth. 
Communication with health professionals was of particular interest to young adults we spoke to who were born with cleft as they had all had recent experiences of treatment.
Hannah felt that there should be more emphasis on the input of the psychological services within the cleft team, and that they could act as a mediator between individuals and professionals. 
Last reviewed June 2017.

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