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Cleft Lip and Palate: Craniofacial Program

All parents want the best for their baby from the very start. But what do you do if your baby is diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate? By choosing an award-winning hospital with gifted pediatric specialists who embrace the team approach, you’re giving your child every advantage.

What Is a Cleft?

Cleft lip and cleft palate are one of the most common birth defects, affecting about one in 700 babies born in the United States. During the 1st trimester of pregnancy, the baby’s lip and palate fuse shortly after an expecting mother learns of her pregnancy. Sometimes, however, the palate and/or lip does not close the way it should. The result is a child with a facial difference, a cleft.

Under the care of the right team, this condition is correctable. In the Gulf South, that team is right here at The Ochsner Hospital for Children. From the womb to adulthood, Ochsner is here to treat the whole  child – not just the cleft. As a member of the American Cleft Palate Association, we are uniquely qualified to care for your child. Our Cleft Lip and Palate Team and our Craniofacial Team will celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2018, marking three decades of patient-focus care for individuals with a facial difference. 

Conditions Treated

Cleft Surgery / Conditions Affecting the Face

Cleft Lip
Cleft Palate
22q Deletion Syndrome
Treacher Collins Syndrome
Pierre Robin Sequence / tongue based airway obstruction
Ear tags and skin tags
Hemifacial Miscosomia
Facial Asymmetry
Neonatal ear malformations with non-surgical ear molding
Malocclusion and Orthognatic Jaw surgery
Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome 

Abnormal Head Shape / Cranial Reconstruction

Posititonal/Deformational Plagiocephaly
Carniocynostosis through minimall invase cranial vault reconstruction
Frontonasal dysplasia / hypertelorism
Apert Syndrome
Crouzon Syndrome
Noonan Syndrome
Pfeiffer Syndrome
Carpenter Syndrome
Syndomic Craniosynostosis
Syndromic conditions affecting the facial skeleton

We offer
consultations in:

*Please use 504-84-CLEFT to book appointments at all locations.

Our staff and facilities offer the best cutting edge care in our region. When surgery is needed, our multidisciplinary team cooperates to minimize the number of times your child will need to have general anesthesia.

For conditions of the face and skull we utilize minimally invasive techniques, when possible, to help your child recover quickly and comfortably.

All surgical procedures are performed at the Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans. 

At Ochsner, the care of a child with a cleft begins before they are born. From the moment a cleft shows up on an ultrasound, we work closely with your OB/GYN and our colleagues in Maternal Fetal Medicine. Unlike specialty pediatric hospitals, we have the ability to deliver high-risk craniofacial patients on-site. If there is a problem at the time of delivery, your baby’s doctor is already here – not across town waiting for the ambulance.

Ochsner Baptist is home to some of the top neonatologists in the region and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). That’s what healthcare with peace of mind is all about.

Schedule an Appointment

Care for babies with cleft lip and palate is performed at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. To schedule an appointment, call 504-842-5338 or 504-84-CLEFT.

Multiple Specialists, One Appointment

It takes a village to take care of a child with a cleft. At Ochsner, that village includes specialists from pediatrics; genetics; neurosurgery; orthodontics; otolaryngology; plastic, craniofacial and reconstructive surgery; speech and language pathology; and psychology and social work. They’re talented, gifted and, most of all, engaged. They’re here to make a difference.

For the convenience of our patients and their families, our team coordinator arranges three-hour visits yearly with families. This allows patients to be seen by numerous specialists at one time and at one location. At this annual visit, called a Cranofacial Clinic, patients receive a full evaluation. Afterwards, our team will send their recommendations to both you and your primary care doctor. Mini Skull Clinics (for patients with skull-related issues) and Mini VPI clinics (for kids with speech and ENT issues) are also available. Out-of-town families often receive assistance with overnight lodging at Brent House Hotel for this visit.

Ochsner adheres strictly to the components identified by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association as essential to quality care. These guidelines have to do with the composition and management of the care team, the communication between the family and the caregivers (being sensitive to cultural and economic factors) and the need to do follow-up assessments to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.

Your child couldn’t be in better hands.

Related Syndromes

Cleft lip and palate is often linked with other syndromes such as Pierre Robin sequence, 22q11 deletion (DiGeorge and Velocardiofacial syndromes), Craniofacial microsomia, Van der Woude syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Opitz syndrome and Trisomy 13 and 18 – to name a few.

If your child has one of these syndromes, you can do no better than Ochsner. We have the specialists and subspecialists with the experience required to treat your child through adulthood. 

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing at Ochsner can aid in the prognosis, management and recurrent risk of cleft lip and palate.

Find out more 

The Role of the Social Worker

An Ochsner social worker is dedicated to our team full-time. She’s here, not only as an experienced counselor, but as someone who can link you to invaluable social services and financial programs. For more information, call 504-842-4000.

Feeding Your Baby

Making sure a baby with a cleft lip or palate gets the nutrition he or she needs can be a unique challenge. For feeding videos and more information, visit