Our speech-language pathologists provide speech, language and feeding evaluations and therapy for infants and children who have a cleft lip or palate or other craniofacial conditions. As one of the most common congenital anomalies, a cleft lip or palate occurs when portions of the facial structures do not fuse together as they should during embryological development.

The Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Team at Wake Forest Baptist has maintained a long-standing accreditation by the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) as both a cleft palate and craniofacial team. This interdisciplinary team consists of plastic surgeons, pediatric otolaryngologists, audiologists, geneticists, orthodontists, child psychologists, and dentists who all collaborate to provide optimal patient care.

Feeding Intervention for Infants with Cleft Palate                            

The presence of a cleft palate results in some challenges with feeding during infancy, for which there are many helpful approaches that our speech-language pathologists can provide assistance. An infant with a cleft palate is unable to generate adequate suction for efficient feeding, however there are several specialty bottle systems available as well as some positional and supportive feeding techniques that can help ensure that an infant has the essential nutrients required for optimal growth.

Our inpatient pediatric speech-language pathologists provide care for infants with cleft lip and/or cleft palate who are delivered at our hospital or who stay in our NICU, and our outpatient pediatric speech-language pathologists provide follow-up care, whether an infant is experiencing feeding concerns primarily related to their cleft palate or arising from other developmental or medical issues. 

Speech-Language Intervention for Children with Cleft Palate

Our speech-language pathologists have extensive experience and education in helping children with a cleft lip and/or palate with their speech and language development. We provide speech-language evaluations for children throughout their early childhood and recommend early intervention services as appropriate, including speech therapy services for children who live in close proximity to our hospital. We also provide evaluations as part of each child’s annual visit with the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Team to evaluate whether articulation and language skills continue to develop age-appropriately and to ensure that speech resonance remains normal as a child grows. 

For patients who live father away, we often collaborate with local speech-language pathologists to facilitate the provision of the most appropriate therapeutic intervention for our patients. We also provide state-of-the-art speech resonance evaluations, which may include evaluation via nasopharyngoscopy in conjunction with a pediatric otolaryngologist, if speech resonance concerns arise.