Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your child was diagnosed with cleft lip and cleft palate, you'll be referred to specialists who can help create a treatment plan for your child. Care for children with cleft lip and cleft palate often involves a team of doctors and experts, including:

  • Pediatricians
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Oral surgeons
  • Pediatric dentists
  • Orthodontists
  • Ear, nose and throat doctors (otolaryngologists)
  • Auditory or hearing specialists
  • Speech therapists
  • Genetic counselors
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists
  • Nurses

Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your baby's diet.
  • Write down any signs or symptoms your baby is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your baby's doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For cleft lip and cleft palate, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Does my baby have a cleft lip, cleft palate or both?
  • What caused my baby's cleft lip or cleft palate?
  • What tests does my baby need?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • Are there any restrictions that my baby needs to follow?
  • Should my baby see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
  • If I choose to have more children, is there a chance they may also have cleft lip or cleft palate?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:

  • Does your family have a history of cleft lip and cleft palate?
  • Does your baby have problems while feeding, such as gagging or regurgitating milk through his or her nose?
  • Does your baby experience any symptoms that worry you?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your baby's symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your baby's symptoms?
Jan. 27, 2015

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