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Cleft lip and palate

Published on 07 February 2024

Based in the Royal Hospital for Children and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, this service provides cleft lip and palate treatment and care to children and adults. The service includes assessment, specialist surgery, specialist nursing and clinical psychology.

What is cleft lip and palate?

Around 90 children are born with cleft lips and/or palates in Scotland each year. A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth. The gap is there because the baby’s face didn’t join together properly during development within the womb. A cleft lip is the most common facial birth defect in Scotland.

Children born with cleft lip and/or palate may need one or more surgical procedures, depending on the nature and complexity of their needs. Initial repairs generally take place within the first few months after birth, with further repairs made as the child grows and their teeth come in. The aim of the surgery is to improve the appearance of the face, but also to resolve any feeding and speech problems that may occur.

Some adults who have had a cleft lip or palate repair before may be self-conscious or unhappy about their appearance, or still have some functional problems. GPs may refer such cases back to the service for assessment and consideration for any further surgical intervention.

You can learn more about services within Scotland on the Cleftcare website.