Cleft Lip and Palate Program

 

The Cleft Lip and Palate Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the largest and most experienced treatment centers in the country, caring for nearly 600 infants, children, and adolescents every year.

Our approach to cleft lip and palate

Because a cleft can involve the lip, nose, and palate (the roof of the mouth), a child’s hearing, feeding, speech, and dental functions may all be affected. A dedicated and knowledgeable team of specialists from several disciplines is necessary to give you and your child the long-term support you need.

Our comprehensive team of specialists includes:

  • plastic surgeons
  • oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  • dentists
  • orthodontists
  • nurses
  • psychologists and social workers
  • otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors)
  • speech-language pathologists
  • audiologists (hearing specialist)
  • clinical geneticists

This multidisciplinary team of specialists continually strives to provide the highest level of care possible. To do this, we routinely evaluate our treatment outcomes, our patients’ quality of life, and their satisfaction with care. Families consistently report high levels of satisfaction with our care team:

Families consistently report high levels of satisfaction with the care team at the Cleft Lip and Palate Program.

Our center cares for a large number of patients and performs the highest volume of cleft-related operations in New England every year. We treat an average of 967 children with cleft lip and palate each year, ranging from infancy to young adulthood. Each year, our surgeons perform:

This is the average number of surgeries conducted each year by the Cleft Lip and Palate Program.

Because we constantly strive for improvement, in 2016, our center began prospectively tracking our cleft outcomes. We regularly evaluate the quality of our treatment to ensure we provide our patients the best care possible. We take pride in our low complication rates. Our long-term outcomes are comparable to or better than many other leading cleft centers, and we continually work to improve the care we provide:

Outcome of cleft palate repair
Our rate
Other centers' rate*
Complications within 30-45 days of surgery
1.75%
2.8-4.2%
Palate fistula (opening in palate)
4.2%
1-30%
VPI (speech problems) at 5 years old
12.99%
5-40%

* — based on results reported in the scientific literature

Here at Boston Children’s, our compassionate clinicians also understand the emotional and psychosocial toll cleft lip and cleft palate can cause. We recognize your child as an individual — never “just a patient” — and provide vital resources and support to meet the needs of your entire family. We also regularly measure our patients’ quality of life using the CLEFT-Q scale and other patient and parent-reported surveys.

Why Choose the Cleft Lip and Palate Program?

  • Nationally recognized care: U.S. News & World Report ranks Boston Children's Hospital higher in more specialties than any other children's hospital in the country. Our team leverages the broad expertise throughout Boston Children’s Hospital to ensure extraordinary management of every aspect of your child’s well-being.
  • Surgical excellence: Our world-class surgical care includes the unsurpassed safety and quality made possible by the most sophisticated tools and technologies available. Our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery is one of the largest and most active pediatric plastic surgery centers in the country.
  • Patient satisfaction: When asked if our doctors answered all questions, our patients gave 4.8 out of 5.0 stars. When asked about their overall experience, they provided a satisfaction score of 4.7 out of 5.0.
  • Collaborative care: Our team approach combines expertise across multiple specialties and programs, enabling us to provide a range of services to you and your child, including:
    • surgical cleft lip and/or palate repair
    • dental and orthodontic treatment
    • supportive nursing care by cleft lip/palate experts
    • feeding guidance and nutritional support
    • evaluation and management of hearing loss
    • speech therapy
    • psychosocial support and counseling
  • Research: Our department also co-directs a highly advanced, 2,500-square-foot research laboratory where our doctors are studying the causes of cleft lip/cleft palate and researching new therapies. Learn more about our craniofacial anomalies research.

Meet our patients

Our team of specialists is exceptional, but so too are the inspiring children we treat.

Meet some of the inspiring children we treat in the Cleft Lip and Palate Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.