Cleft Lip and Palate Center

Our Nationally Recognized Team's Singular Focus — Caring for the Whole Child

Full Cleft Lip Repair

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Cleft Lip and Palate Center

The Cleft Lip and Palate Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers children and their families comprehensive care from a multi-disciplinary team of nationally recognized clinicians.

Led by Richard E. Kirschner, MD, FACS, FAAP, chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and co-editor of the textbook Comprehensive Cleft Care, our team comprises experts from plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, otolaryngology (ENT), speech - language pathology, nursing, dentistry, social work, audiology, genetics, and psychology.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Center is recognized as an affiliate team of the American Cleft Palate - Craniofacial Association (ACPA).

About the Cleft Lip and Palate Center 

The Cleft Lip and Palate Center supports the vision of Nationwide Children’s Hospital's Strategic Plan, and supports the principles of care set forth by American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA). Our multidisciplinary team consists of individuals who are recognized as national leaders in their specialties.

Philosophy of Care

We provide comprehensive care to optimize facial appearance, speech, dentofacial development, and overall self-concept. In addition to providing premier diagnostic and treatment services to patients, we also provide educational and support programs for families and the community. We believe that it is our responsibility to provide training and research opportunities for students, residents and fellows in the area of cleft/craniofacial anomalies in order to ensure future generations of quality care for cleft-affected children and that it is our obligation to provide comprehensive services to underprivileged children in developing regions of the world.

Our Team

At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, your child will be cared for by an integrated health care team dedicated to the restoration of form, function and self-esteem. We offer pre-natal and pre-adoptive counseling to families as well as comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services to patients from birth to adulthood.


Our team participates in annual review of quality and outcomes of our services to facilitate continuous improvements in care. We also participate in national outcomes research as part of the Americleft project.

International Outreach

Our partnership with Casa Azul America allows us to provide free cleft lip and palate surgery to underprivileged children in Lima, Peru.

Our Team

Our nationally recognized team has a single, clear focus – caring for the whole child.

From our perspective, true healing occurs when we build a caring relationship that addresses each of the physical and emotional aspects associated with a child's condition throughout growth and development. The children and families who turn to us receive comprehensive care from a multi-disciplinary team of expert clinicians who have come together to ensure the best quality of life for every child.

Cleft Lip and Palate Leadership

The Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is led by Dr. Kirschner. 

Dr. Kirschner is nationally recognized as a leading authority in cleft lip and palate, resonance disorders, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and vascular malformations. He has been widely published in many leading professional publications and is actively involved in research and teaching. Learn more about Dr. Kirschner.

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional

Richard E. Kirschner

Richard Kirschner is the chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, director of the Cleft Lip and Palate-Craniofacial Center and co-director of the 22q Center.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some of the frequently asked questions our center receives about cleft lip and palate. If you have a question that you can't find an answer for, please contact us

What is cleft lip and cleft palate?

Cleft lip and/or cleft palate are one of the most common birth defects in the U.S., affecting approximately one in 700 babies. Cleft lip and palate may occur as part of an underlying syndrome or be an isolated birth defect. A cleft lip is the result of the lip not “fusing” together during the first few months of fetal development. This often includes the separation of the upper gum line. A cleft palate, which also occurs during the first few months of fetal development, is a separation in the roof of the mouth caused by the sides of the palate not completely fusing one another.

The severity of cleft lip and cleft palate can vary. A baby can be born with just a cleft lip, just a cleft palate, or both a cleft lip and palate. The clefts are classified as unilateral or bilateral. A unilateral cleft lip or palate affects just one side of the mouth. A bilateral cleft lip or palate affects both sides of the mouth.

How many babies are born with clefts? 

Cleft lip with or without cleft palate is one of the most common birth defects in the U.S., affecting approximately 1 in 700 babies. 

Read more of our Frequently Asked Questions

Stay Connected to the Cleft Lip and Palate Center  

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Join us on Facebook

 Stay connected to other families like you and join the conversation on our facebook page. 


Cleft Support Group

Cleft Lip and Palate Support Group

We've established a Cleft Lip and Palate Support Group here at the hospital. Sign up if you'd like to be added to the list for more information. 



Cleft Lip and Palate Playlist

Watch our videos with commonly asked questions for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate. 

What to Expect After Cleft Palate Surgery

Your child just had his or her palate repaired. What's next? Our team doesn't stop after your child leaves the operating room. We're here every step of the way until your child makes a full recovery at home. Here's a guide to help you navigate through the post surgery journey.

Helping Hands

Our Helping Hand content provides additional educational resources for our cleft lip and palate center families. 

Save the Date!

Building Hope and Smiles: Cleft Lip and Palate Family Conference

When: June 23-24, 2023

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Join us for: 

  • Networking opportunities with families and team members
  • Inspirational keynote addresses by:
    • Rick Guidotti, founder, Positive Exposure
    • Hugh Gillard, author of “What Did You Say? Memories on a Road Less Travelled”
  • Educational talks and panels for parents

  • Small group sessions

  • Fun and educational activities for children and teens

  • Social events for families

More details to come! Check back soon for more information about the conference.

Teagan D
Patient Story

Teagan's Story

When Jennifer's twins were just a grainy image on an ultrasound, her doctor pointed out an important difference in their faces. Teagan had a cleft lip. She would later be diagnosed with a cleft palate as well.