Cleft Palate Clinic

What is a cleft lip or palate?

A cleft is a split or opening in the lip and a cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. These conditions may occur separately or together and are present at birth.

What are the assessment services for children with cleft lip and palate?

Babies born with cleft lip and palate in Nova Scotia are referred to the Cleft Palate Clinic at the IWK Health Centre at birth. The first visit to the Cleft Palate Clinic takes place at 4-6 weeks of age, and routine follow-up is provided until about 16-18 years of age. There are many specialists on the Cleft Palate Team.

Children born with cleft palate are at increased risk for ear infections as well as speech and language difficulties. For this reason, regular check-ups of hearing and routine speech and language assessments are very important. For children born with a cleft palate, we recommend an initial consultation with a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) by 6 months of age, and annual assessments until the time they enter school. These early assessments should be provided in the child’s home community. For children born with a cleft lip only, we recommend initial consultation by 18 months of age and additional assessments at least once every 1½ years. If speech or language therapy is recommended, the community S-LP will schedule the child for any necessary treatment, or provide a home program.

What is the Cleft Palate Team?

The Cleft Palate Team at the IWK Health Centre includes a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) who is specialized in the assessment and treatment of speech difficulties that are unique to children born with cleft palate. This S-LP will work together with the community S-LP when needed, to assist with assessments and recommendations for treatment. The Cleft Palate Team S-LP will provide regular assessments of the child’s speech after he/she starts school and work together with the school S-LP as needed.

Specialists on the Cleft Palate Team include professionals from the fields of audiology, dentistry, ear nose and throat surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatrics, pediatric dentistry, plastic surgery, and speech-language pathology.

Who can be referred?

Any individual born with a cleft lip/palate can be referred to the S-LP with the Cleft Palate Team (IWK).

Who can refer?

Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres has an open referral policy whereby parents/caregivers, teachers, doctors and related professionals with parental consent may refer a child for assessment.

How do I make a referral?

Referrals and questions can be directed to your local NSHSC site.