Adopting a Child with Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate

Should you adopt a child with cleft lip or cleft palate? What is involved with this special need? Host Dawn Davenport interviewed four medical specialists working with children with cleft lip/palate: Dr. Andrea Smith, a dentist specializing in dental and facial prosthetics, clinical director at Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic in Lancaster Pennsylvania, and one of only 350 maxillofacial prosthodontists worldwide; Dr. Thomas Samson, pediatric plastic surgeon at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, co-director of the Penn State Hershey Craniofacial Clinic and the Penn State Hershey Vascular Anomalies Clinic; Abbie Ellis, a feeding specialist at the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic; and Maureen Rostolsky, a speech therapist who specializes in working with children with cleft lip and palate at the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic.

Hit the Highlights
  • What is cleft lip and cleft palate exactly?
  • What is the difference between cleft lip and cleft palate?
  • What causes this condition?
  • Is it usually a stand alone special need or condition or does it come in combination with other special needs or conditions?
  • How is it corrected?
  • How many surgeries are usually required?
  • Is it always fully correctable?
  • Does the ability to correct cleft lip or cleft palate depend upon the age of the child at adoption?
  • What are the dental implications of cleft lip/palate?
  • What age do orthodontics begin?
  • Is it possible for a child with cleft lip/palate to breastfeed?
  • Would a supplemental nursing/feeding system help?
  • Are babies with cleft lip/palate able to suck on a bottle?
  • What type of bottle is best?
  • If a baby or toddler with cleft lip/palate has become accustomed to cup feeding, should parents reintroduce the bottle?
  • If a child or toddler with cleft lip/palate has food coming out of their nose when they eat, is there the potential for harm or infection?
  • What are the speech implications for cleft lip/palate?
  • How long do children typically remain in speech therapy?
  • Where can people who do not live near a specialize cleft clinic find help?
  • Does insurance cover the treatment of cleft lip/palate?
  • Does insurance cover the orthodontics?
  • Does insurance cover the dental implants?

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Image Credit: Military Sealift Command