Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital Introduces Enhanced Pediatric Cleft Lip and Palate Program
Children with cleft lip or palate can now stay close to home for comprehensive treatment.
BY KIRSTIN REED
Clefts, or openings, in the lip or palate (the roof of the mouth) form before birth. These birth defects can interfere with a child’s or adult’s ability to eat and talk. Corrective surgery to fix cleft lips and cleft palates closes and repairs these openings, improving breathing, speech and appearance for children and adults alike.
Enhanced program provides multidisciplinary expertise
The Enhanced Pediatric Cleft Lip and Palate Program at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital brings together a team of cleft experts to manage cleft diagnoses from birth.
“Cleft care is multidisciplinary, so you can’t just have a surgeon manage your child’s treatment,” says Davis. “Our cleft team includes a cleft surgeon, pediatric dentist, orthodontist and speech therapist.”
Joining Davis, the dedicated team at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital includes pediatric dentist Marsha Gordon, DDS, orthodontist Philip Tighe, DMD, and speech and swallow therapist Tara Huggard.
Stay close to home for diagnosis and treatment
Most cases of cleft lip or cleft palate are diagnosed by ultrasound during prenatal evaluations.
“When a family is referred for prenatal cleft evaluation, we discuss a plan even before the baby is born,” Davis says. “After the baby is born, we have a standard treatment protocol.”
Starting at birth, the cleft team will ensure the baby is feeding well. Some children benefit from pre-surgical intervention, which is decided during an orthodontic evaluation. Most cleft lips are surgically repaired between 3 and 6 months of age and most cleft palates can be repaired between 9 and 12 months.
“Almost all children will need speech therapy after palate repair,” Davis says. “Some may require secondary surgery or minor touch-up surgery around age 5. Between ages 6 and 8, most children will require orthodontic evaluation and treatment.”
Get personalized care from a dedicated team
The Enhanced Pediatric Cleft Lip and Palate team will see patients together, meaning your child will be seen by the same group of caregivers during every step of their treatment plan.
“We’ll see how things are evolving over time,” Davis says. “Continuity is important with cleft care, especially because we will see the family once a month or once every other month for the first year of the child’s life.”
Parents, ask your child's doctor for a referral to the Enhanced Pediatric Cleft Lip and Palate Program or call 610-402-7999 to schedule an appointment.