JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Children’s of Mississippi has many medical specialists, including ones who are experts in plastic surgery, oral-maxillofacial surgery, dentistry, orthodontics, audiology, genetics, social work and speech therapy.
Mississippi’s only cleft team with American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA) approval holds a multidisciplinary clinic twice a month at the Eli Manning Clinics for Children at the state’s only children’s hospital.
Children born with cleft lips, palates and facial clefts may have issues with breathing and feeding, and later, with speech. Patients with rare clefts that involve the eye also need ophthalmology care.
“ACPA’s standards for approval are high, so we take pride in being an ACPA-approved cleft team. The resources of UMMC allow us to offer the complete spectrum of care needed by patients born with cleft lips, cleft palate and complex facial clefts,” said Dr. Ian Hoppe, surgeon-in-chief at Children’s of Mississippi and head of the cleft team.
About one in every 1,600 babies is born with a cleft lip and palate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Complex facial clefts are very rare, and their prevalence is not well understood.
Children born with cleft lips, cleft palates and facial clefts need care from a variety of specialists throughout their childhoods and into adolescence, Hoppe said. The multidisciplinary cleft clinic at Children’s of Mississippi includes them all.
“Babies with cleft lips and palates can have problems feeding, so we have a feeding specialist on our team. Children who have surgery for their clefts need pediatric anesthesiologists to put them to sleep because of the unique anomalies their airways can have, so they’re a part of our team and at each surgery we do.”
By about 18 months to 2 years old, children born with clefts begin to see speech therapists, and it’s important that their speech therapists “know how to care for children with clefts,” Hoppe said. “Our speech therapist Kara Gibson specializes in cleft patients.”
Child psychologists on the team screen for any developmental issues, and social workers check to make sure patients’ families have resources ranging from food and transportation to educational help.
“Many of our families are fine,” said social worker Brittannie Goodman, “but if they need anything, we’re here for them and can connect them to resources.”
The multidisciplinary cleft clinic at Children’s of Mississippi can be a “hub where families can plug into for referrals to otolaryngologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, orthopaedists and other specialists as needed,” Hoppe said.