Cleft & Craniofacial Clinic

Conditions that affect the face, mouth and ears can interfere with a child's growth and self-esteem. At UNM Children's Hospital, we help families get the best craniofacial care. 

Our expert surgeons and therapists can improve your child's function and appearance. Your child's care team will help you understand the best ways to reduce the risk of eating, communication or emotional problems later in life.

UNM Children's Hospital can care for your baby from birth through young adulthood. We treat a range of conditions, such as:

  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, also known as DiGeorge syndrome
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Ear underdevelopment
  • Hemifacial microsomia
  • Pierre Robin sequence
  • Stickler syndrome
  • Velopharyngeal insufficiency, or hypernasality

Many craniofacial conditions can be found before birth through prenatal testing. As soon as we diagnose your child's condition, we will discuss treatment options with you, including surgery.


A craniofacial diagnosis can seem daunting, but with the proper care and treatment, your child can flourish. UNM child life specialists are also a support resource for families and children staying at UNM Children’s Hospital. They use play therapy to keep your child happy and engaged; and for parents, you will have an advocate for your child’s health as he or she undergoes surgery.

Make an Appointment

To schedule a pediatric appointment, call 505-272-2290.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common conditions that affect a child's face and mouth. In these babies, the lip, area below the nose or the roof of the mouth don't fully form.

Cleft lip and palate are fixed by surgery. Most children go on to live normal, healthy lives. Find out what to expect during treatment [PDF]

We begin cleft lip repair when your child is two to three months old. In severe cases, your child may need naso-alveolar molding to shape facial tissues before surgery. Surgery then happens at five to six months old. Cleft palate surgery happens at 10-14 months of age unless there are health concerns or speech delays.

A cleft palate can cause problems with the Eustachian tubes—resulting in fluid buildup, hearing problems and chronic ear infections. Surgeons place small tubes in the eardrums to keep fluid from building up. This surgery has minimal risks and can greatly help your child’s ear pain.

Children with Pierre Robin sequence can benefit from distraction osteogenesis of the jaw. In this surgery, a special device is put in the jaw to encourage elongation of the lower jawbone. This allows more room for the tongue, easing breathing problems.

With velopharyngeal insufficiencies, the soft palate allows too much air to move through the nose during speech. This causes hypernasality, or too much sound in the nasal cavity, during speech. Your child’s velopharyngeal insufficiency can be corrected through surgery, a nonsurgical prosthesis and/or speech therapy.