Cleft and Craniofacial Prevention and Awareness Month!

Cleft and Craniofacial Prevention and Awareness Month

The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) along with other organizations are raising awareness about cleft and craniofacial defects along with other conditions that affect the face. So what are craniofacial defects? The Center for Disease Control defines craniofacial defects as conditions present at birth that affect the structure and function of a baby’s head and face. The most common craniofacial defect we see in children is a cleft lip and cleft palate. This is when a baby is born with an opening in the lip and/or roof of the mouth (palate). According to, cleft lip and cleft palate occur in 1 or 2 of every 1,000 births making it one of the most common birth defects in the United States. It occurs during the first 6 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, the bones and tissues of a baby's upper jaw, nose, and mouth normally come together (fuse) to form the roof of the mouth and the upper lip. This can cause other health problems or concerns such as feeding problems, ear fluid buildup, hearing loss, dental problems, and speech problems.


According to the American Speech and Hearing Association, the treatment of cleft palate is done through a team approach. Typically children start off by seeing a surgeon who will close the cleft lip or palate usually before 1 year of age. An orthodontist and dentist are also a crucial part of the team by helping to straighten your child’s teeth, and making sure their jaw is aligned properly. A speech language pathologist will assess your child’s feeding during infancy and will also monitor your child’s speech and language development. Other team members may include pediatricians, nurses, ENT, audiologist, psychologist, social workers, and nutritionists.


The American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) has outlined teams in each state that specialize in cleft palate and craniofacial deformities. Here is the link to the teams located in South Carolina


Check out the links below for more information.


-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

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