Stories about: cleft palate

Expert insight on cleft lip and palate

Experts answer parents' questions about cleft lip and palate.

Learning that your baby has a cleft lip or palate can be upsetting, but these birth defects are quite common. They occur early in pregnancy when tissue from each side of the head grows together to form the face. If these tissues don’t completely join, the result is a cleft, or gap, on one or both sides of the upper lip. A cleft palate occurs when the tissue that forms the roof of the mouth doesn’t fully come together, leaving an opening between the mouth and nose.

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Jack’s journey managing Robin sequence

Pierre Robin Sequence, Jack Ryan
Jennifer and 8-week-old Jack

Jennifer Ryan is a disability expert. She started her career doing home visits with drug-addicted and abused babies, then ran a center and started a program for kids with autism and now works in a collaborative elementary school.

But nothing prepared this new mom for the challenges she would face with her own child.

“It’s completely different when it’s your own,” she says now, after her son Jack was treated at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Cleft and Craniofacial Center for a group of birth defects known as Pierre Robin sequence or just Robin sequence.

For the first and second trimesters of Jennifer’s pregnancy, everything looked perfect. At 30 weeks, a blood clot put Jennifer in the hospital and her pregnancy at risk. As a standard precaution for any high-risk pregnancy, more ultrasounds and tests were ordered. Doctors were concerned about one of the scans, so Jennifer was sent to Boston Children’s for an MRI.

That’s when things got complicated.

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