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Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic


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To find out how the Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic can help your child, call 505-272-2290 or 505-272-2302. Learn more about what to expect by downloading our brochures:

If part of your child’s face doesn’t develop as expected, the Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic at UNM Health System can provide and facilitate care he or she needs to eat and speak well. Trust us to diagnose and treat conditions such as:
•    Cleft lip or cleft palate
•    22q11.1 deletion syndrome
•    Ear underdevelopment
•    Hemifacial microsomia
•    Pierre Robin sequence
•    Stickler syndrome
•    Velopharyngeal insufficiency, or hypernasality

Prenatal Diagnosis

During pregnancy, an ultrasound may show a cleft lip or palate – a split lip or roof of the mouth. In that case, you’ll begin learning treatment options and support services available after birth, including specialized feeding assistance.

Surgical Treatment

Give your child the best odds of a good, long-term outcome by following your care team’s recommendations for one or more of these procedures.

Cleft Lip Repair

Your healthy baby’s lip repair likely will take place at age 2-3 months. But if your child’s lip cleft is severe, doctors may recommend naso-alveolar molding to gradually shape facial tissues into a better position for surgery. In this case, your baby will wear small appliances for a few months and receive surgery at 5 or 6 months old.

Cleft Palate Repair

Palate repair usually takes place when a healthy baby is 10-14 months old and developing speech. If your child has health concerns or speech delays, surgeons may wait longer to perform the procedure.

Distraction Osteogenesis for the Mandible

If your child has Pierre Robin sequence – a small lower jaw (mandible) that crowds the tongue and causes breathing problems – he or she may benefit from distraction osteogenesis. This procedure makes a small cut in the jaw and uses a special device to encourage new bone to grow and enlarge the lower jaw.

Ear Tube Placement

A cleft palate usually makes fluid build up in your child’s middle ear and cause hearing problems. Surgery can drain the fluid and place small tubes in the eardrums to keep the ears ventilated.

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency Surgery

Velopharyngeal insufficiency, or hypernasality, means your child’s soft palate allows too much air to move through the nose during speech. Surgery – or a nonsurgical prosthesis – and speech therapy can improve your child’s voice.

Support Services

Take advantage of our extensive support services that help improve your child's and family's long-term well-being.

Dental & Orthodontic Evaluations

Even before your child grows teeth, make appointments with a pediatric orthodontist who can assess and monitor jaw growth and tooth development and make timely treatment recommendations. Regular visits to a pediatric dentist beginning early in life also can help your child develop healthy teeth.

Developmental Care

A developmental care specialist can help your family identify and arrange all the services your baby needs. He or she may benefit from weight and growth monitoring, specialized feeding assistance, home health care, primary care, speech therapy and the state Family Infant Toddler program for children at risk of developmental delays.

Family & Individual Therapy

Counseling can help your family cope with your child’s condition, maintain healthy relationships and deal with teasing or social problems at school.

Genetic Counseling

A genetic counselor can discuss the option of genetic testing with you and help determine the odds of having another baby with an abnormality. Your child also may receive an age-appropriate genetic evaluation or counseling session.
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