Print    Email
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
Oral Cleft Program
Bookmark and Share

Oral Cleft Program

The Oral Cleft Clinic, part of the plastic surgery and craniofacial program, provides care for children with cleft palates and cleft lips.

Cleft lip and palate are treatable birth defects. Most children who are born with clefts can undergo their first sur­gery within 12 months of being born. Our program assesses the develop­mental progress of children with this condition. To achieve the best results, we provide solutions based on the individual needs of the child and his or her family.

We will create a complete treatment plan, including recommendations for parents, caregivers, medical providers and school staff, as we learn about your child. We can also work with families wondering about future pregnancies or genetic concerns.


Our team will cover the following health issues with you to help care for your child:

  • Feeding and nutrition
  • Oral care
  • Speech
  • Hearing
  • Breathing

Oral Cleft Facts

  • Cleft means “split” or “separate.” During early pregnancy, separate areas of the face develop individu­ally and then join together. If some parts do not join properly, the result is a cleft.
  • Cleft lip or palate is one of the most common birth defects, affecting one in 500 children.
  • Clefts can vary greatly in size and severity.
  • Cleft lip or palate may be on one or both sides of a baby’s face.
  • Clefts can be repaired. Surgical correction is timed to match your baby’s facial growth.

Assessment in the Hospital (After Birth)

The assessment team includes a registered nurse, a clinical social worker and a speech therapist. We will educate and support your family during this potentially emotional time. Within 48 hours of your baby’s birth, we will meet and work closely with a plastic surgeon to assess your baby’s condition and share information with you.

Preparing for Your Child's Visit to the Oral Cleft Clinic

A typical visit lasts two hours and includes:

  • A brief meeting with each specialist
  • Recommendations from each specialist
  • Referrals to support services and other health care professionals as needed

A letter detailing your child’s plan of care will be sent to you and your family doctor. 

Funding assistance for this program is provided through the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation and Of One Heart, a local charity.

Helpful Links
Cleft Palate
Cleft Lip
Feeding Your Child With Cleft Palate
The Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation of Smiles

Contact Us
Located in the Helen DeVos Children’s Outpatient Center
330 Barclay Street NE, Suite 203
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503


Phone: (616) 391-2320
Fax: (616) 391-2131

Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.