Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft Lip and Palate Services

One in every 600 to 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate.  Services for these children are provided through the North West, Isle of Man and North Wales Cleft Lip and Palate Network.  Across the Network, approximately 150 children each year are born with a cleft lip and/or palate and, at any given point in time, ongoing treatment is provided for around 3000 children and adults.  The Network also sees patients without a cleft but with similar speech difficulties.  These referrals are often made by Speech and Language Therapists working in the community.

The aim of the Network is to provide multidisciplinary specialised management for at least the first 20 years of life to produce the best outcomes for patients in terms of optimal physical function, psychological adjustment and aesthetics.

The Network ensures that parents are provided with good antenatal and postnatal care and effective surgical treatment where a cleft lip and/or palate has been diagnosed.  Surgery to repair the cleft is undertaken at two centres across the Network - Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital and Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.  Surgeons are supported by a highly specialised team of Clinical Nurse Specialists, Speech and Language Therapists, Clinical Psychologists Geneticists and Audiologists as well as clinicians from Orthodontics, ENT, Restorative and Paediatric Dentistry.

Ongoing out-patient treatment is provided as close to the patient's home as possible and the Network provides a range of services, not just at the two surgical centres, but also at Preston, Glan Clwyd, Wrexham and Bangor Hospitals where local clinicians work closely with specialist staff from the centres.

What is a Cleft Lip?

A cleft lip is a gap in the upper lip on either one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral). It can vary from a slight notch (an incomplete cleft lip) to a longer gap extending up towards and into the nostril (a complete cleft lip). Behind the cleft lip there may be a groove or gap in the upper gum.

What is a Cleft Palate?

The palate forms the roof of the mouth and normally separates the mouth from the nose. A cleft palate is a gap in the roof of the mouth. This gap may involve the soft palate at the back of the mouth or extend further forward into the bony, hard palate.