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Cleft Palate & Craniofacial Disorders

We help children and teens born with cleft palates and other disorders of the face and head.
Our program

We help patients reach their maximum potential. Disorders of the face and head can cause issues with a person’s appearance, speech, hearing, facial function and self-esteem. That’s why we have a team of specialists that works together to make sure patients reach their maximum potential. 

We care for patients from B.C. and the Yukon, providing ongoing specialist assessments, treatment plans, case management and coordination, treatment intervention, and second opinions about managing speech and orthodontic issues. During our weekly clinics, we examine our patients, develop their treatment plans and set up services for them in their community. 

Please note: a referral from a medical professional is required to request treatment for a patient or consultation.


Our team


Program coordination

Our nurse clinician team may be the first people you meet on the team. They will provide support and information and will answer your questions about clefting and craniofacial conditions, feeding your cleft-affected baby, what to expect and watch for, and other areas of concern or questions. They will coordinate your child's team care and guide you through the process.

Nurse coordinator

Sandra Robertson, RN, BSN (T: 604-875-2345 ext. 7057)

Program secretaries

Our program secretaries are the first line of communication in our program. They will take your call and answer your questions, or connect you with someone else on the team when needed. They coordinate and book all cleft palate/craniofacial team appointments.

Reymie Krefting (T: 604-875-3146)
Karine Nishimura (T: 604-875-3146)

Social work

Our social worker assists our patients and their families with the social and emotional impacts of their medical conditions. Social work services may include individual family and group counselling, parent groups,  financial/practical assistance, as well as liaison with community resources.

Kathryn Urquhart (T: 604-875-2345, ext. 6551)

Pediatrics

Our pediatricians and nurse practitioners specialize in caring for infants, children and teens with cleft and disorders of the face and head. They are involved in treatment from the time a patient is born until the time they are teens.

‎Dr. Christine Loock, MD, FRCPC, is a developmental pediatrician at BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. She is currently the medical director of the provincial cleft palate/craniofacial program at BC Children's Hospital and an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

 

A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Loock did her United States and Canadian pediatric residency training in Seattle and Vancouver, respectively. For over three decades, her clinical and research work has improved the recognition, treatment and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

 

Dr. Loock's current clinical and research work focuses on socially marginalized children and youth, with special focus on those with neurodevelopmental disorders, sleep disorders, birth defects, FASD and other craniofacial conditions including cleft palate and multiple congenital anomalies. In 2010, Dr. Loock and her co-workers developed the first Canadian social pediatrics network with clinical and academic partners across Canada to foster research, training and child and youth health care advocacy.

 

Dr. Loock has been recognized locally, provincially and nationally for her clinical service and academic work in education and research, and for volunteer service and advocacy work in the broader community. In 2012, Dr. Loock was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service by the Governor General of Canada. In 2018, she received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award (health and wellness category) as well as the Janusz Korczak Medal for Child Rights Advocacy. In 2019, Dr. Loock and her team received UBC's John F. McCreary prize for their work on interdisciplinary and intersectoral programs in social pediatrics. 

Dr. Collin Yong is a staff pediatrician at BC Children’s Hospital and a faculty member with the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Yong has extensive and varied experience in general and acute pediatrics as well as sub-specialty training in biochemical and kidney diseases. His clinical skills range from newborns to young children.
 
Over the years, Dr. Yong has also provided medical assistance in underserved areas throughout the world. He has worked extensively in Ethiopia, South America, Indian sub-continent, southeast Asia and China. Dr. Yong has also participated as a lead pediatrician for cleft lip and palate surgeries in Africa, South America and southeast Asia. His extensive experience has prepared him to work in the cleft palate team at BC Children's Hospital.
 
With his accumulated international experience, Dr. Yong has affirmed a single theme in the care of children: it starts with the family. He is a firm believer in involving the family in medical decisions for the children. The care of children is not just about a medical condition; it also entails the cultural and social values of the family.
Dr. Emily Fisher,  MD, MSc, FRCPC, grew up in Vancouver. She completed her pediatrics residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto after completing her medical degree at Tel Aviv University School of Medicine in Israel. Prior to entering medicine, Emily completed her Master of Science in medical genetics at the University of British Columbia. 

Emily’s interest in cleft and craniofacial care stems from her genetics background combined with her interest in social justice. During her bachelor’s training at Queen’s University, Emily joined her two older sisters, both physicians, on a surgical mission to rural Guatemala. During this trip, Emily was introduced to developmental differences and how they are accepted and treated differently in different cultures. 

During her master’s, Emily learned the importance of collecting data in order to advocate for services and supports. She was responsible for ascertaining the prevalence of Huntington’s disease in British Columbia and along the way was involved in Huntington’s summer camps and became acquainted with social workers at the Huntington Society of Canada. 

Emily considered a career in social work but opted for medicine. Emily’s interest in social justice dates back to childhood. Her mother is an appellate court judge and her father worked in east Vancouver for 50 years as a frontline family doctor. Growing up, social justice was a common theme at the dinner table. 

Emily’s master’s thesis project prepared her for more advocacy-based research. During her medical studies in Israel, she connected with a mother of two adopted children later diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The two of them worked together to ascertain the prevalence of FASD in a community in Israel. They understood that to fill a service gap, we must understand the population is in need. Their project served as the first ascertainment study of its kind in Israel and helped families advocate for awareness, education and services. 

During her time with the cleft and craniofacial team as a fellow, Emily was involved in a social determinants of health survey study. She also co-authored a chapter in the new cleft and craniofacial text book on the social determinants and barriers to access of cleft care. Emily looks forward to continuing on as a developmental pediatrician on the cleft and craniofacial team. She is most passionate about the human aspects of care and she brings with her strong experience with advocacy and social justice. 


Nurse practitioners

Treatment plans for clefting and craniofacial conditions can be complex. Our nurses are an important part of your team throughout your child’s treatment from birth to “graduation” from our program. They coordinate your child’s care and ease communication among the care team members and with your family. They have a thorough understanding of your child’s condition and can answer questions and offer advice. They teach you about your child’s cleft/craniofacial condition and treatment. Nurses help you prepare for follow-up care at home. You may meet a cleft/craniofacial nurse before your child is even born (if your baby’s cleft or craniofacial condition was picked up on ultrasound before birth). For any questions or concerns about your child or their treatment, call the nurses first. For questions about appointments, call the program secretaries first. 

Aurélie "Leigh" Houta, MN-NP (F), is a family nurse practitioner with ten years of nursing experience in community, acute and intensive care. She has a strong background in cardiology and cardiac surgery and has spent most of her career in the adult world at Vancouver General Hospital.

 

Supporting the need for primary services inspired her to broaden her scope and skill set and become a nurse practitioner. After completing the family nurse practitioner master's program at the University of British Columbia, she joined the BC Children's Hospital cardiac surgery team and found a passion for pediatrics.

 

Leigh joined the cleft palate and craniofacial program team in early 2022 and is enjoying her new role and her new client population. Leigh is passionate about providing excellent care to the pediatric population. She believes strongly in family-centered care and involving the entire family and their cultural and social values in the care, treatment and medical decisions for each child. 

Misty Reis has 20+ years of nursing experience and 15 years as a nurse practitioner. Early in her career, Misty focused on neonatal and pediatric critical care, obtaining a neonatal subspecialty certificate.

Following completion of her master’s in nursing, Misty developed the nurse practitioner role and worked in the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up clinic in Edmonton, Alberta.

Children with cleft lip and palate are close to Misty’s heart as she has both professional and personal experience related to the program; her niece had a cleft lip and palate.

In her spare time, Misty enjoys being active outside and is an avid sports participant. Her favourite sport is soccer but she plays pretty much everything. She loves golfing and getting out on her paddle board on beautiful Vancouver summer days.

Audiology

Our audiologists assess and treat hearing issues from the time our patients are infants until early childhood.

‎Kristina Bingham, MSc, R.Aud, is an experienced pediatric audiologist with an interest in cleft and craniofacial hearing care. After graduating with a master's degree in audiology from the University of British Columbia (2007), Kristina worked at WorkSafe BC and Surrey Memorial Hospital before joining the team at BC Children's Hospital in 2015. 


Kristina is a clinical educator with the University of British Columbia's School of Audiology and Speech Sciences and also provides Diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response testing through the BC Early Hearing Program.  


In 2018, Kristina travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to participate in a collaborative teaching mission with The National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Vietnam as they established a comprehensive program for pediatric cleft care. 

Beth holds a master’s degree in audiology and speech sciences from the University of British Columbia and has been a clinical assistant professor there since 1994. 

A long-time Vancouverite, Beth has worked at Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC (formerly The Vancouver Oral Centre) and Vancouver Community College Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults.

Beth joined the audiology staff at BC Children’s Hospital in 1985 and enjoys the diversity of the multidisciplinary teams. She is particularly interested in helping families understand their child’s hearing status and how they can optimize communication.

For over 10 years, Beth has been doing research with the Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Innovation Pharmacogenomics Program at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, particularly focussed on ototoxicity. 

In addition to her work as an audiologist on the cleft palate/craniofacial team, Beth is also the lead audiologist for the BCCH oncology, haematology, bone marrow transplant program and the Sunny Hill vision and hearing loss teams.

Speech pathology

Our speech pathologists are involved with treating speech and language issues from the time our patients are toddlers to the time they are pre-teens.

‎Lindsay Beveridge, MSc, R-SLP, graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2009 with a master’s degree in speech language pathology. 

Lindsay began her career as a community SLP on Haida Gwaii and has since worked as a pediatric SLP for BC Children’s Hospital in the following areas: brain injury, alternative and augmentative communication, hearing loss and craniofacial/cleft palate. 

‎Katie Kewin, MClSc, R-SLP, graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2007 with a master’s degree in speech language pathology. 


Katie has experience working in a variety of settings including school districts, child development centres and hospitals. As a pediatric SLP at BC Children’s Hospital, she has worked in mental health and craniofacial/cleft palate. 

Sheryl Palm, MCISc, S-LP,  is a registered speech pathologist who joined the cleft palate and craniofacial team at BC Children’s Hospital in 2004. She is a clinical faculty member with the University of British Columbia audiology and speech sciences program where she provides regular instruction in the area of cleft palate and craniofacial speech disorders.   


Since graduating from UBC in 1995, Sheryl has worked in a variety of school, preschool and health care settings including Deaf Children’s Society, BC School for the Deaf, Oral Program at Burnaby South, and Sunny Hill Health Centre. She has always had a passion for working on a collaborative, interdisciplinary team and feels fortunate to have learned so much over the years from outstanding colleagues and, importantly, from her amazing patients and families who are valued members of the team.  

Sheryl is an advisory member of Planet Smile for Kids Society and travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2018 and 2019 as part of a collaborative teaching mission with the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology as they work to become a centre for comprehensive cleft care.  

Phone: 604-875-2000 ext. 7045

Orthodontics

Our orthodontists treat problems with the position of patients' teeth and jaws. They are often involved in treating newborn patients before they have surgery, and when they reach pre-teen and teen ages. Please note: the hospital does not offer orthodontic services on site.

‎Dr. Travis Gibson, DMD, MSc, Dipl(Ortho), is one of our team's certified specialists in Orthodontics. He was born and raised in North Vancouver, and attended the University of British Columbia for his Bachelor of Science (BSc), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Diploma in Orthodontics, and Master of Science (MSc) degrees. 

 
After completing his orthodontic speciality education, Dr. Gibson completed a Fellowship in Craniofacial and Special Care Orthodontics at New York University where he gained extensive experience in the orthodontic management of cleft lip and palate and other congenital facial differences. 

Dr. Gibson believes in the importance of an honest and open partnership between patient, family and doctor. He works hard to ensure each person understands their unique treatment needs and options so that they can make an informed decision on what is best for them.

In addition to being a member of the BC Children’s Hospital cleft and craniofacial team, Dr. Gibson maintains a private practice in Maple Ridge which focuses on comprehensive dental care for children and teens, offering both orthodontic and pediatric dental services. Dr. Gibson is also involved in academic research with both New York University and BC Children’s Hospital, and has published studies in the Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, and Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is a contributing author and editor of the textbook Cleft and Craniofacial Orthodontics.
 
In his free time, Dr. Gibson likes to spend time with his wife and their identical twin boys. They enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and camping, and playing board games.


Phone: 604-349-5430 

Email: ortho@mapleridgedentistry4kids.com

Website: mapleridgedentistry4kids.com/services/orthodontic-services        

‎Dr. Paul Helpard is originally from Welland, Ontario. He attended the University of Western Ontario where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He then completed dental school at McGill University where he was a gold medal recipient. Following university, Dr. Helpard spent three years with the Canadian military before pursuing orthodontic specialty training at the University of Iowa.


Dr. Helpard is actively involved with the cleft palate and craniofacial team. He works at BC Children's Hospital providing consultation services and interdisciplinary treatment planning with numerous medical specialists. 

Dr. Helpard is a member of the Canadian and American Associations of Orthodontics, the British Columbia Society of Orthodontists as well as the Canadian and British Columbia Dental Associations. He is a fellow and examiner of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and he has completed the multistage examination process to become a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.

Outside of the office, Dr. Helpard likes to spend time with his wife, Christine, and their three beautiful children, Benjamin, Amelia and Sammy. He enjoys participating in many community and athletic activities.

Dr. Angie Loo, DMD, MSc, FRCDC, graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia in 1985, after which she completed her general practice residency at the Hospital for Sick Children, Hugh MacMillan and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospitals in Toronto, Ontario. 

 

Dr. Loo graduated with a combined certification in the specialty of orthodontics and Master of Science in craniofacial biology from the University of Manitoba in 1989. Following graduation, Dr. Loo returned home to establish her private practice in Vancouver and subsequently received her orthodontic fellowship in the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. 

 

Dr. Loo is an active orthodontist staff member on the BC Children's Hospital cleft and craniofacial team, an associate clinical professor at the UBC Faculty of Dentistry, and the course coordinator for the UBC graduate orthodontic program in cleft and craniofacial care. She lectures internationally on facial clefting and feels privileged to participate in surgical cleft missions overseas. 

 

Dr. Loo's passion for treating children with cleft and craniofacial differences inspired her to form the Spring for Kids Foundation in 2009 where she currently serves as the foundation's president. Dr. Loo's commitment to the treatment and education of children with cleft and craniofacial differences was recognized with a 2011 certificate of merit from the British Columbia Dental Association, and the American Association of Orthodontists Humanitarian Award in 2022.

 

When not in private practice, Angie enjoys her favourite hobbies including soapstone carving and nature photography, and venturing the great outdoors sea kayaking with her family.  


Phone: 604-261-8890 

Email:  DrLoo@bracedinbc.com

Website:  bracedinbc.com       

I have the best job in the world. I truly love getting up in the morning to come to work!

I am thrilled when I see the improvements we are able to make to someone’s appearance and function, and the enormous effect that can have on the person’s self-esteem and confidence. 

Orthodontics requires science, medicine and art, along with the ability to connect with each patient and understand what will serve them best. It is essential to develop a treatment approach that not only delivers the radiant smile, but also provides stable function so the person is able to enjoy a lifetime of oral health.

I feel very privileged to have the confidence of parents who bring their children to me and equally appreciate the trust of my adult patients. Creating something so personal that will affect the individual’s health and emotional well-being for years to come is a great responsibility.

After 35 years of practice, I take that responsibility as seriously as I did the day I saw my first patient.

Dr. Dorothy Sonya, DMD, MSc, Dip. Ortho. RCDC, Dip. ABO, CDSBC, has more than 35 years of experience in dental medicine, orthodontics and radiology.

 

Prior to specializing in orthodontics, Dr. Sonya was a general dentist. This experience enabled her to gain essential insight into the long-term oral health needs of the community and that insight continues to inform her orthodontic treatment planning. She crafts each patient's treatment approach to address their aesthetic goals as well as lasting function and stability.

 

Dr. Sonya holds a Doctorate of Dental Medicine, a Master of Science and a diploma in orthodontics from the University of Manitoba, as well as a Master of Science in dental and maxillofacial radiology from King's College, London, England, and a corticate of clinical proficiency in radiology from the University of Washington in Seattle.

 

When she's not seeing patients, Dr. Sonya enjoys time with her family, friends and many community activities. 


Phone: 604-535-3028

Email: info@whiterockortho.com

Website: whiterockortho.com

Otolaryngology

Our otolaryngologists treat problems related to the ear, nose and throat. They are involved in treatment from the time patients are infants to the time they are teens/adults.

Dr. Neil K. Chadha, MBChB(Hons), MPHe, BSc(Hons), FRCS, completed his medical and otolaryngology training in the United Kingdom and his pediatric otolaryngology fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario.
 
Dr. Chadha joined the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery) at BC Children’s Hospital in July 2010. He has been division head since September 2018. Dr. Chadha is also director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship Program, director of pediatric otolaryngology research and a clinical professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.
 
His practice is exclusively pediatric, with special interests in open and minimally invasive surgery of the airway, pediatric congenital neck, salivary and thyroid surgery, and endoscopic sinus surgery. 
 
Dr. Chadha has a master’s degree in public health and epidemiology and has published over 100 research articles and seven book chapters. In his spare time, he loves playing and coaching soccer, running, skiing, and, more recently, woodworking—and he is making sure to be extremely careful with his fingers.

Phone: 604-875-3730
Dr. Mark Felton, MD, MBChB, MSc, FCRS, is a consultant pediatric otolaryngologist at BC Children’s Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. Originally from the United Kingdom, Dr. Felton studied at the University of Leeds in England, graduating with an honours degree in anatomy before completing his medical degree. 

Dr. Felton carried out his specialist ENT (ears, nose and throat) training at the University of Manchester. Following this, he undertook a subspecialist pediatric ENT fellowship at BC Children’s Hospital in 2015/2016. After this, he spent over three years at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom as a consultant otolaryngologist with a subspecialist interest in children’s ear disorders. He rejoined the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at BC Children’s Hospital as a consultant in 2019. 
 
Dr. Felton is active in medical teaching having completed a master's degree in medical education. He regularly enjoys teaching trainees, students and allied specialists. He is also active in research and has completed a postgraduate research degree as well as numerous international presentations and peer reviewed publications. His research focuses on ear disorders and outcomes from implantable hearing aids.

Phone: 604-875-2113
Fax: 604-875-2498
Dr. Fred Kozak, MD, FRCSC, is the senior pediatric otolaryngologist in the division. He is a graduate of McMaster University Medical School. After completing a rotating internship in Toronto, he undertook residency at the University of British Columbia. Following a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology head and neck surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 1991-1992, he joined the staff at BC Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Kozak’s surgical practice has covered the entire field of pediatric otolaryngology, however over the past 20 years he has focused on the ear as a pediatric otologist and pediatric cochlear implant surgeon.  

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Kozak has served on numerous committees at BCCH including chair of the medical advisory committee and surgical physician admitting officer. He was the division head from 1996-2018. His research area of interest covers the entire field. He has presented his work locally, nationally and internationally and has over 75 publications.

Dr. Kozak is a UBC clinical professor in the Department of Surgery and has been the UBC Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Residency (OtlHNS) program director since 2012. He started the BCCH OtlHNS Fellowship Program in 2002. Dr. Kozak teaches medical students, residents and fellows. He is involved with the Doctors of B.C. and the B.C. Ministry of Health.

In his spare time, he is known to be an on again off again guitar player, a fine baritone singer and a weekend road bike rider. He is also co-founder of a custom colourful sock company: drsox.ca.
Dr. Jeffrey Ludemann, MDCM, FRCSC, joined the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at BC Children's Hospital in 1999. He is a clinical professor of otolaryngology at the University of British Columbia and is the quality of care lead for the Division of Otolaryngology at BC Children's Hospital.

Dr. Ludemann is the principal founder of dontchoke.ubc.ca (evidence-based injury prevention education, in eight languages). Dr. Ludemann was the founder and former chair of the Canadian Society of Otolaryngology Pediatric Study Group. He conceptualized the Storz Vancouver Forceps which have been used since 2006 by Pediatric Otolaryngologists around the world for the safe removal of small bronchial foreign bodies.

Dr. Ludemann's hobbies include Tai Chi and Kung Fu, playing guitar, hiking and skiing. He also enjoys biking, especially to fundraise money via the Vancouver Rotary Club for hearing loss research. Dr. Ludemann is married with three amazing children.

Website: dontchoke.ubc.ca
Dr. Paul Moxham, MD, FRCSC, is a pediatric otolaryngologist. He completed medical school at the University of Alberta in 1992, followed by an internship at Charles Camsell Hospital (1993), a residency in otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) at the University of British Columbia (1998), and finally a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia (1999). 

In his downtime, Dr. Moxham enjoys running, particularly trail running for the past 10 years. He also enjoys cycling with his wife and daughter several days a week. During the winter, Dr. Moxham loves downhill skiing, trying new hills or his old favorites in B.C. and Alberta. 

Dr. Moxham was born in London, Ontario and has lived all across Canada (Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) as well as in Melbourne, Australia. He has called Vancouver home for 26 of the past 27 years. 


Phone: 604-875-2113
 
Dr. Ronak Rahmanian, MD, FRCSC, completed her undergraduate education in microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia, during which time she worked at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control as well as Protiva Biotherapeutic performing basic science research. 

She then earned her medical degree and completed her residency at the University of British Columbia. She pursued a fellowship in otology and neurotology at the St. Paul’s Hospital Rotary Hearing Clinic & Vancouver Hospital Neurotology Services. She completed a second fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at Rady Children’s Hospital and worked as an assistant clinical professor at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) – Rady Children’s Hospital as a full-time pediatric otolaryngologist prior to joining the pediatric otolaryngology team at BC Children’s Hospital. 
 
Although Dr. Rahmanian enjoys all aspects of clinical pediatric otolaryngology, she has a special interest in pediatric ear surgery and cochlear implants. 
 
Dr. Rahmanian was raised in Vancouver. During her spare time she enjoys the outdoors, playing tennis, skiing, learning to surf and spending time with her friends and family.
 
Plastic surgery

Our oral and plastic surgeons perform operations to repair/improve the function and appearance of a patient's face and head. They are involved in treatment from the time patients are infants to the time they are teens/adults.
Dr. Jugpal S. Arneja, MD, MBA, FAAP, FRCSC, received his Doctor of Medicine and completed his plastic surgery residency training from the University of Manitoba. He also completed a fellowship in craniofacial/pediatrics from the Medical College of Wisconsin and received his Masters of Business Administration from  the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

He is currently a clinical professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of British Columbia and an associate member of the Sauder School of Business and attending clinical staff at BC Children's Hospital. He is actively involved in teaching and conducting research at UBC, as well as serving as the editor-in-chief of the journal Plastic Surgery, the official journal of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In addition, he has participated with Smile Train as a plastic surgeon and educator as well collaborating in plastic surgery research overseas.
 
Dr. Douglas Courtemanche, MD, MS, FRCSC, is a plastic surgeon with a special interest in cleft and craniofacial surgery. 

A graduate of the University of British Columbia's medical school (1983) he interned at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, and returned to British Columbia for his residency in plastic surgery. He also completed a craniofacial fellowship at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne as well as a Master of Surgery at the University of Melbourne. 

Having started in practice in Vancouver in 1991, he brings a little over 30 years of clinical and academic experience to the care of his patients and the support of his excellent colleagues as one of the surgeon leaders on the team. 

Dr. Courtemanche is a clinical professor of surgery at UBC. He has also worked to support system improvements to enable the cleft team to meet its mandate to provide care at the standards set by the ACPA. In addition, he manages a diverse pediatric and adult practice focused on craniofacial conditions (including trauma) and vascular anomalies; he is the director of the Vascular Anomalies Clinic at BC Children’s Hospital.

Outside of medicine, Dr. Courtemanche enjoys cycling, gardening and spending time with family and, of course, his dog. His other major passion is his work with Doctors for Planetary Health - West Coast, working for social and environmental justice and challenging colonial structures to make the necessary changes in the face of the global climate emergency.
 
Dr. Erika Henkelman, MD, BMSc, is a pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon. She completed medical school at the University of Toronto and a plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at Southern Illinois University. 

She has done fellowships in pediatric plastic surgery at Sick Kids Hospital (Toronto, Ontario), craniofacial surgery at Victoria Hospital (London, Ontario), and pediatric complex craniofacial surgery at Lurie Children’s Hospital (Chicago, Illinois). 

Dr. Henkleman is board-certified in plastic surgery in Canada and the United States. She has subspecialty interests in head shape, cleft and craniofacial differences, and facial paralysis. 
 
Phone: 604-875-2008
Fax: 604-875-2749
Dr. Sally Hynes, MD, FRCSC, is a pediatric plastic surgeon with a focus on cleft lip and palate, congenital hand differences and burns. 

Dr. Hynes completed medical school at Queen’s University in 2007, followed by a plastic surgery residency at the University of British Columbia in 2012. She completed a fellowship in pediatric plastic surgery at Sick Kids in Toronto, followed by further fellowship training in cleft lip and palate in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Before returning to British Columbia, Dr. Hynes worked at the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich as a clinical research physician and plastic surgeon, investigating a novel bioengineered skin substitute for burn patients.  

Phone: 604-875-3748
Fax: 604-875-2749
Dr. Saoussen Salhi, MDCM, MSc, FRCSC,  attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She then entered the plastic and reconstructive surgery residency program at the University of Montreal where she simultaneously completed both her clinical training and her master's degree in biomedical sciences.

She then completed a one-year fellowship in craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Anthony S. Wolfe.

She subsequently worked as a pediatric plastic surgeon at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, Florida and at Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba with a practice focused on craniofacial surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, ear reconstruction, facial reanimation, vascular anomalies and breast surgery.

Dr. Salhi is board-certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Phone: 604-875-3758
Fax: 604-875-2749

Maxillofacial surgery

Dr. Graham Grabowski completed his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He continued his training at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut where he completed his residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Following this, he completed the National Dental Specialty Examination of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and is recognized as a certified specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

In addition to his work at BC Children’s Hospital, Dr. Grabowski is an assistant clinical professor at UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is involved in the undergraduate oral surgery program as well as the graduate pediatric dentistry and orthodontics programs.

Outside of work, Dr. Grabowski enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs. He stays active skiing and biking, and when possible, travelling. To relax, he enjoys cooking and gardening. 
 
Dr. Grabowski enjoys working with patients and other care providers to ensure patients understand their treatment options and select treatments that achieve their objectives.
Dr. Chris Olynik, DMD, attended the University of British Columbia and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in animal physiology in 2004. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from the University of British Columbia in 2008.

Dr. Olynik then moved to Houston, Texas to complete a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at hospitals affiliated with University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine. He obtained his fellowship with the Royal College of Dentists of Canada in 2012 as a certified specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

After completing residency, Dr. Olynik joined the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in the Texas Medical Center as an assistant clinical professor.

Dr. Olynik is a diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS) and has active memberships with the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (CAOMS), the British Columbia Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the American Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Association, and the Academy of Osseointegration.

In addition to his work as a surgeon with BC Children's Hospital, Dr. Olynik is affiliated with Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and BC Cancer.

Dental

Dr. Jennifer Park, DMD, FRCD(C), MSc, BA, is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry. She is committed to providing comprehensive dental care for infants, children, adolescents and those with special needs. She is passionate about preventing disease and restoring/maintaining great oral health.

Dr. Park received her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) in 2008 from the University of Saskatchewan, where she also obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology (2004). Dr. Park also completed a Pediatric General Practice Residency (GPR) at the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University in Halifax. She went on to practice as a general dentist for three years in Saskatoon, Vancouver and the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. Her passion to use her skills to serve the underprivileged led her on medical/dental mission trips to Haiti and Nicaragua.

Over the years, Dr. Park was particularly drawn to pediatrics which led her to pursue specialty training in pediatric dentistry at the University of British Columbia where she also obtained a master's in craniofacial science. Dr. Park is extensively trained in providing comprehensive dental care for healthy, medically compromised and special needs children using a wide variety of modalities including behavior management and oral sedation. She is particularly interested and experienced in dental trauma care.

Dr. Park is a pediatric dentistry fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, a member of the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, British Columbia Society of Pediatric Dentistry and the British Columbia Dental Association. Dr. Park is committed to teaching and training future dentists and specialists and is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and the chief of dentistry at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Phone: 604-875-2114 (Department of Dentistry)
Alice Mak is a local British Columbian, born and raised in Vancouver. She has 25 years of experience working as a certified dental assistant (CDA) and has worked in a variety of private dental offices from non-profit to pediatric. Since completing the certified dental assistant program at Vancouver Community College, she has continued to develop professionally through conferences, courses and study clubs. She also volunteers in the community, educating children and their families in inner city schools about the importance of oral health.

Alice joined BC Children’s Hospital in 2010 and has developed a passion for working with children and their families, hoping to make a life a little easier and sunnier. She loves what she does in supporting the cleft palate program and the Department of Dentistry.
 
Alice and her husband also run a busy household along with their three children, all in different stages of life. She volunteers at her children's school and serves on the parent advisory council committee. In her spare time, she enjoys running, scrapbooking and loves to explore any new local cafes in town. 



Your visit

Preparing for your visit

On your first visit, you’ll meet with several members of our team, which may include some or all of the following people: pediatrician, social worker, nurse practitioner, ENT physician, audiologist, orthodontist, plastic surgeon, and speech and language pathologist. Each specialist will meet with you and your child individually to review your child's medical history and perform physical exams.

  • You will receive a 48-hour reminder prior to your appointment. 
  • Please ensure you arrive at least 15 minutes early. 
  • If you are unable to make the appointment, please contact us asap to re-schedule; coming late or not showing up impacts the specialist team and other patients. 

Please note: Visits to our clinic usually last from one to three hours. Please ensure you and your child are adequately prepared to stay for at least two hours (food, drinks, toys, etc.).

Indigenous supports

We advocate for and provide help to Indigenous families who are visiting the hospital. For example, Indigenous Patient Navigators offer in-hospital assistance to improve the quality of health care delivery to Indigenous patients through direct patient support and staff education. To learn more about available Indigenous supports, please visit: http://www.bcchildrens.ca/our-services/support-services/indigenous-patient-liaison

Frequently asked questions

We have a team of specialists that works together to make sure patients' needs are fully understood. Depending on a patient's condition, they will meet different specialists on the team (e.g., audiologist, orthodontist, plastic surgeon, speech and language pathologist, etc.). 


Each specialist will meet with you and your child individually to review your child's medical history and perform specific assessments (e.g., speech, hearing, teeth, etc.). After these meetings, the specialists will meet together to discussion the patient's needs and to establish the appropriate next steps.

A referral from a physician or nurse practitioner is needed for the BC Children’s Hospital Cleft Palate & Craniofacial Program. Referral is open to all physicians and nurse practitioners in B.C.


Please contact your primary health care provider to discuss your situation and to request a referral to our clinic.

Once the referral is received, the clinic will call you directly when an appointment is available. Please note, the current wait time for non-urgent appointments can be from weeks to months.

While awaiting an appointment, please refer to our resources and information page.

Visits to our clinic usually last between one and three hours.

Prior to your appointment, you will be emailed a link to complete an online questionnaire. Your responses will help our team prepare for your appointment. Please be sure to complete the questionnaire as soon as possible. If you would like to prepare beforehand, you can view the questions here (PDF download).

The questionnaire will help our team to:

  • Hear family's concerns and help the team to respond to these concerns
  • Identify current community resources available to you
  • Help families access other resources available
  • Determine if any additional specialists are required
  • Help families and the team determine which of our team's services are necessary

Our nurse coordinator will help to plan any follow-up appointments you may need.

Parking


Financial hardship parking permits may be available for those who are not exempt on a case-by-case basis. Please talk to the team social worker or call the clinic at 604-875-3146 for more information. If you have further questions, please contact parking administration at 604-930-5440 or LMCparking@fraserhealth.ca.


BC Family Residence Program


The BC Family Residence Program provides accommodation assistance for out of town families who need to come to BC Children's Hospital for appointments. Enhanced travel assistance is also provided through air transportation for patients of all ages. To learn more, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/accessing-health-care/tap-bc/bc-family-residence-program.


Hope Air


Hope Air is a national charity that arranges free flights for patients of all ages who cannot afford to fly to receive the medical care they require. To learn more, please visit: https://hopeair.ca.

Resources

There are hundreds of rare syndromes associated with cleft and craniofacial conditions. If your/your child's condition is not listed here, please be assured that the team at BC Children's Hospital will be able to provide you with information, a diagnosis and care for the condition.

If you are a health care professional seeking resources, please visit our clinical resources section.

Conditions and resources


Cleft lip and palate conditions and resources

About 

A cleft lip is a condition where there is an opening (cleft) in the lip. It is one of the most common craniofacial disorders.



Incomplete unilateral cleft

When one side of the lip has a cleft, it's called a unilateral cleft lip. If the unilateral cleft does not go all the way to the nose, it's called it an incomplete unilateral cleft lip.


Complete unilateral cleft

If the cleft is on one side of the lip and goes all the way to the base of the nose, it's called it a complete unilateral cleft lip.


Bilateral cleft

When both sides of the lip have a gap that goes all the way to the nose, it's called a complete bilateral cleft lip.

Causes

Each year, one in 700 newborns is born with a cleft lip. A cleft lip occurs when the parts that form the mouth don't join together properly. This happens very early in the pregnancy, within the first four to 12 weeks. Cleft lips can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.


Impact on child

We use our lips to do many things from eating and drinking to speaking. Patients with cleft lips may have issues related to their:

  • Speech
  • Feeding
  • Growth/development
  • Dental health

Treatment

Cleft lips can be successfully treated with surgery. Our team's plastic surgeons and orthodontists work with our patients' parents to choose the best timing for surgery. In most cases, a baby's cleft lip will be repaired within the first three to four months after birth. The actual timing of the surgery depends on the patient's general health and the nature of the cleft lip. 


Typical treatment and follow-up plans are outlined below:


At birth: Newborn nursing consultation and follow-up

The treatment process starts with a nursing consultation for new parents to learn about and get support for diagnosis, feeding and treatment plans.


First two weeks: Orthodontic evaluation

Our orthodontists assess the cleft and, if needed, fit the baby with an orthodontic appliance that may help to narrow the gap between the lips and gums, improve the symmetry of the nose and minimize the amount of scaring from the surgery. For babies with "bilateral cleft" (a gap on both sides of the lip) the appliance may also bring back the small central portion of the lip and gum in a controlled fashion. Because the lip and gum are in a better position, it simplifies the surgical repair.


Four to six weeks: Plastic surgery consultation

Our surgeons assess the cleft and begin planning for surgery.


Four weeks before surgery: Pre-admission clinic consultation

Our anesthetist and nurses ensure our patient is ready to have anesthetic and surgery.


Three to four months: Cleft lip surgery

Our surgeons repair the cleft in the lip.


Six weeks after surgery: Plastic surgery follow-up appointment

Our patient is assessed by either our team or by specialists in our patient's community.


Three years: Cleft lip team assessment

Our patient is assessed by the entire team during an out-patient visit (one or two days).


Before school: Cleft lip and nose revision surgery

If appropriate, our patient undergoes lip and nose revision surgery.


Five years: Cleft lip team assessment

If appropriate, our patient is assessed by the plastic surgery and orthodontics over the course of an out-patient visit (one or two days).


Resources

About

The palate is the roof of your mouth and it's made of two pieces:

  • The hard palate, which is the part right behind the teeth; you can feel it with your tongue
  • The soft palate, which is at the very back of the mouth, near the throat
A cleft is an opening or a gap, so a cleft palate is a condition where there is a gap in the roof of your mouth. Types of cleft palates include:

  • When the gap is only in the soft palate, it's called an incomplete/partial cleft palate
  • When there is a gap in the both the hard and soft palate, it's called a complete cleft palate.
  • A complete cleft can occur in one or both sides. If it's on one side, it's called unilateral cleft. If the cleft occurs on both sides, it's called a bilateral cleft.

Causes

A cleft palate occurs when the parts that form the palate don't join together properly. This happens very early in the pregnancy, within the first six to eight weeks. Cleft palates can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.


Impact on child

The palate separates the mouth from the nose. We use it when we eat, drink and speak. A cleft palate may impact a child's:


  • Speech
  • Hearing
  • Dental development
  • Feeding
  • Growth/development

Treatment

Cleft palates can be successfully corrected with surgery. Our team works with our patients' parents to choose the best time for surgery. In most cases, a baby's cleft palate should be repaired by the time the baby reaches the age of 12 months. Determining when to have surgery will depend on the patient's general health and the nature of the cleft palate. 


The typical treatment and follow-up plans are outlined below:


At birth: Newborn nursing consultation and follow-up

The treatment process starts with a nursing consultation for new parents to learn about and get support for diagnosis, feeding and treatment plans.


First two weeks: Orthodontic evaluation

Our orthodontists assess the cleft and, if needed, fit the baby with an orthodontic appliance that may help to narrow the cleft (only if there is a cleft lip, too).


Four to six weeks: Plastic surgery consultation

Our surgeons assess the cleft and begin planning for surgery.


Nine to 11 months: Cleft palate team assessment

Our team assesses our patient's ears, hearing and speech during an appointment to complete the surgical plan.


Nine to 11 months: Pre-admission clinic consultation

Our anesthetist and nurses ensure that our patient is ready to have anesthetic and surgery.


Nine to 12 months: Cleft palate and middle ear tube surgery

Our surgeons repair the cleft in the palate, and if necessary, insert middle ear tubes into the ear drums.


Six to eight weeks after surgery: Plastic surgery, audiology and otolaryngology (ENT) recheck

Our patient is assessed by either our team or by specialists in our patient's community.


Two years: Cleft palate team assessment

Our patient is assessed by the team over the course of an out-patient visit (one to two days).


Resources

Conditions associated with cleft lip and palate

‎About

CHARGE syndrome is condition that occurs when different types of tissue do not develop completely. This happens very early in pregnancy, within the first three to four weeks. Children born with CHARGE syndrome often have multiple serious medical conditions that affect many different systems in their bodies. The diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome is based on a combination of major and minor characteristics. 


The word CHARGE is based on the major symptoms of the condition; it stands for:


  • C- Coloboma of the eye (a hole in one of the structures of the eye)
  • H- Heart defects
  • A- Atresia of the choanae (narrow or blocked nasal cavities)
  • R- Retardation of growth and/or development
  • G- Genital and/or urinary abnormalities
  • E- Ear abnormalities and deafness

Causes

CHARGE syndrome occurs in one in 8,500 to 10,000 births (1). It’s a genetic disorder, which means it's caused by changes (mutations) in a gene(s). Genes, which are passed from parents to children, determine a person's traits, including appearance and growth. Mutated genes can be inherited from a parent, caused by environmental factors or occur randomly. In most cases, CHARGE syndrome is caused by a random (new) mutation in a gene.


(1) National Library of Medicine's Genetics Home Reference


Impact on child

Children with CHARGE syndrome have many serious, potentially life-threatening medical challenges. Due to the range of symptoms, each child is impacted differently. Symptoms may include (but are not limited to):


  • Impairment or loss of vision
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Cleft lip and/or palate
  • Narrowing or blockage of the nasal cavities (atresia of the choanae)
  • Impaired growth and/or development
  • Genital and/or urinary abnormalities
  • Ear abnormalities and hearing loss

Treatment

Due to the range and severity symptoms, each child’s treatment is unique. Our team works with our patients and their families to develop a treatment plan that addresses each patient’s specific needs.


Resources

‎About

Pierre Robin sequence, also called Robin sequence, Pierre Robin syndrome, or PRS, is a condition where babies are born with a small lower jaw, resulting in difficulties with breathing (airway obstruction) or feeding and growing. They often (but not always) have a cleft of the palate (an opening in the roof of the mouth). The functional difficulties typically start at or shortly after birth.

About half of children with PRS have a syndrome or a genetic cause for their small jaw and may have other associated features.

Causes

The cause of PRS is still not fully understood. It is thought to start as a small jaw, which means the tongue does not have enough room to sit in the mouth. It may tilt back, blocking the airway, and may sit high in the mouth, blocking the roof of the mouth (palate) from closing during normal development. Why the jaw is small in the first place is not known but in some cases it is because of a genetic difference in the baby.

Some babies have a family history of PRS or similar problems, although most don't.

Impact on child

Your baby may have a small jaw and cleft palate, along with breathing difficulties, which can be present from birth. These may show in one or more of the following ways:

  • Your baby may appear to be working hard to take breaths and look worn out and tired with breathing
  • Their chest appears to be sucking in with each breath
  • A grey or blue colour appears around their lips, even if your baby is still breathing
  • Their breathing may be noisy (especially when breathing in)
  • Your child may hold their breath or be unable to breathe, especially when sleeping on their back
Children with PRS can have poor weight gain due to the cleft palate causing feeding problems, but also because their breathing problems become harder to manage when they try to breathe and feed at the same time.

You might notice some of the following signs in your baby:

  • They take a long time to feed, get tired easily and don't take all the milk
  • Difficulty latching to the breast
  • Coughing, choking or arching the back when feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Reflux (milk or stomach acid coming back up) from the nose and/or mouth
If your baby does not receive the appropriate medical treatment, they may have ongoing problems with nutrition and weight gain, or they may have increasing difficulty with their breathing.

Treatment

The treatment will depend on the extent of breathing and feeding difficulties. Your baby may need to stay in hospital for observation and treatment, including:

  • Breathing support
  • Nutrition and feeding support
  • Close observation of weight gain
  • Monitoring of vital signs (e.g., heart rate) and ongoing breathing assessments
Babies with PRS often do much better sleeping in the prone position (lying on their stomach) or on their side. This allows their jaw and tongue to move forward and open their airway, making breathing easier. Prone positioning is a medical recommendation for PRS babies despite the general pediatric “back-to-sleep” advice for the prevention of SIDS.

Sometimes, assistance to keep the airway open is required. This involves the insertion of a tube known as a nasopharyngeal (nay-so-faran-jeel) airway, or NPA. This tube goes into the nose and sits in the back of the throat holding the tongue forward so it cannot block the airway. 

The majority of babies with PRS outgrow the breathing problems within three to six months as their airway grows. Occasionally breathing problems persist, or the airway obstruction becomes severe and life threatening. In these cases, your baby may need surgical treatment, such as a tongue lip adhesion, floor of mouth release, jaw distraction, or, rarely, a tracheostomy. 

Babies with PRS need to have follow-up appointments with the cleft palate team members and with neonatologists (doctors specializing in newborn babies) and the respiratory team to ensure that any breathing and feeding problems are getting better.

If your baby has a cleft palate, consultation with the cleft team, including plastic and ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeons, speech pathologists and a pediatrician will be required. Repair of the cleft palate in babies with PRS is often delayed until 12 to 18 months of age and is planned in consultation with the whole cleft care team. 
Your baby will need to have regular hearing assessments, as hearing difficulties often occur due to fluid in the middle ear that does not drain out in the usual way. It is common for an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon to insert ventilation tubes in the ears (ear tubes) at the same time as the operation to close the cleft palate. 

All babies with PRS should have at least one appointment with a children's eye doctor for a review.

Source (used with permission):

‎About

Stickler syndrome is a genetic disorder that can cause vision, hearing and joint problems. Also known as hereditary progressive arthro-ophthalmopathy, Stickler syndrome is usually diagnosed during infancy or childhood.

Children who have Stickler syndrome have distinctive facial features including prominent eyes, a small nose with a scooped-out facial appearance and a receding chin. They are often born with an opening in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate).

While there is no cure for Stickler syndrome, there are treatments and supports. In some cases, surgery can be helpful to correct some of the physical differences seen in Stickler syndrome.

Causes

Stickler syndrome is caused by mutations in certain genes involved in the formation of collagen, one of the building blocks of many types of connective tissues. 

A child is more likely to be born with Stickler syndrome if they have a parent with the disorder.

Impact on child

The symptoms of Stickler syndrome, and the severity of those differences, can vary widely from person to person, even within the same family.

  • Eye problems. In addition to having severe nearsightedness, children who have Stickler syndrome often experience cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachments.
  • Hearing difficulties. The extent of hearing loss varies among people who have Stickler syndrome. It usually affects the ability to hear high frequencies.
  • Bone and joint abnormalities. Children who have Stickler syndrome often have overly flexible joints and are more likely to develop abnormal curvatures of the spine, such as scoliosis. Osteoarthritis can begin in adolescence.

Treatment

There is no cure for Stickler syndrome. Treatment addresses the symptoms of the disorder.

Therapy:
 
  • Speech therapy. Your child may need speech therapy if cleft palate or hearing loss interferes with their ability to learn how to pronounce certain sounds.
  • Physical therapy. In some cases, physical therapy may help with mobility differences associated with joint pain and stiffness. Splints, orthotics (shoe inserts) or other devices may also help with mobility.
  • Hearing aids. If your child has problems hearing, you may find that their quality of life is improved by wearing a hearing aid.
  • Special education. Hearing or vision problems may cause learning difficulty in school, so special education services may be helpful.
Surgery:

  • Tracheostomy. Newborns with very small jaws and displaced tongues may need a tracheostomy to create a hole in their throat so that they can breathe. The operation is reversed once the baby has grown large enough that their airway is no longer blocked.
  • Jaw surgery. Surgeons can lengthen the lower jaw by cutting the jawbone and implanting a device that will gradually stretch the bone as it heals.
  • Cleft palate repair. Babies born with a hole in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate) typically undergo surgery in which tissue from the roof of the mouth may be stretched to cover the gap.
  • Ear tubes. The surgical placement of a short plastic tube in the eardrum can help reduce the frequency and severity of ear infections which are especially common in children who have Stickler syndrome.
  • Eye surgeries. Surgeries to remove cataracts or procedures to reattach the lining of the back of the eye (retina) may be necessary to preserve vision.
  • Joint replacement. Early-onset arthritis, particularly in the hips and knees, may necessitate joint replacement surgeries at a younger age than is typical for the general population.
  • Spinal bracing or fusion surgeries. Children who develop abnormal curves in their spines, such as those seen in scoliosis and kyphosis, may require corrective surgery. Milder curves often can be treated with a brace.
Source (used with permission):

 

Craniofacial conditions and resources

About

Craniosynostosis is a condition that affects the shape of the head and face. It occurs when the bones of the skull close too early, before the brain has finished growing. A newborn's skull has seven bones which are separated by spaces called sutures. As an infant's brain grows, it pushes the bones of the skull outward.


Craniosynostosis prevents the brain from growing normally, so the head becomes misshapen. Because there are multiple sutures that can fuse, there a several different types of craniosynostosis:


  • Sagittal synostosis occurs when the suture at the top of the head (the sagittal suture) closes too early, forcing the head to grow long and narrow, instead of wide.
  • Coronal synostosis (anterior plagiocephaly) occurs when one of the sutures that runs from the ear to the top of head (a coronal suture) closes too early, forcing the head to flatten on the fused side.
  • Bicoronal synostosis (brachycephaly) occurs when both of the sutures that run from the ear to the top of head (the coronal sutures) close too early, forcing the forehead and brow to become flat and elevated.
  • Metopic synostosis (trigonocephaly) occurs when the suture that runs from the nose to the top of the head (the metopic suture) closes too early, forcing the top of the head to have a triangular shape.
  • Lambdoid synostosis (posterior plagiocephaly) occurs when the suture at the back of the head closes too early (lambdoid suture), forcing the head to flatten on the fused side.

Causes 

Craniosynostosis occurs in one in 2,500 births (1). When cause of craniosynostosis is unknown, it's classified as non-syndromatic. When craniosynostosis is a symptom of a medical condition, it's classified as syndromatic. Craniosynostosis is often a symptom of Apert, Pfeiffer and Crouzon syndromes.


(1) Slater BJ, Lenton KA, Kwan MD, Gupta DM, Wan DC, Longaker MT (April 2008). "Cranial sutures: a brief review". Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 121 (4): 170e–8e.


Impact on child

Because craniosynostosis affects the growth of the head and face there are a range of symptoms which may include (but are not limited to):


  • Missing "soft spot" (fontanelle) on the newborn's skull
  • A raised hard ridge along the affected sutures
  • Irregular head and face shape
  • Impaired head growth
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Dental malformations

Treatment

Treating craniosynostosis usually involves surgery to separate the fused bones. Our team works with our patients and their families to develop a treatment plan that addresses each patient's specific needs.


Resources

Conditions associated with syndromic craniosynostosis

About


Apert syndrome is a condition that causes abnormal growth of the head, face, hands and feet. During pregnancy, the skull bones join together too early, which prevents them from growing normally. As a result, the area between the bottom of the eyes and jaw are often underdeveloped, making the eyes appear more prominent. Webbed fingers and toes are also common in children born with Apert syndrome.


Causes

One in 65,000 to 88,000 children are born with Apert syndrome(1). Apert syndrome is a genetic disorder, which means it's caused by changes (mutations) in a gene(s). Genes, which are passed from parents to children, determine a person's traits, including appearance and growth. Mutated genes can be inherited from a parent, caused by environmental factors or occur randomly.


(1) National Library of Medicine's Genetics Home Reference

Impact on child

Because Apert syndrome affects the growth of the head, face, hands and feet, there are a range of symptoms which may include (but are not limited to):


  • Underdevelopment of the mid-face
  • Protruding eyes
  • Webbed or fused fingers and toes (syndactyly)
  • Extra fingers or toes (polydactyl)
  • Cleft palate (palatoschisis)
  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Impaired vision
  • Increased sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Intellectual disability (ranging from normal to moderately severe)

Treatment

Many of the symptoms of Apert syndrome can be treated. Our team works with our patients and their families to develop a treatment plan that addresses each patient’s specific needs. Treatment plans for patients with Apert syndrome often include surgeries to correct the shape of the head and face, as well as the webbing/fusion of the fingers and toes.

Resources

‎About

Muenke syndrome is the most common craniosynostosis syndrome, occurring in approximately one in 30,000 births. Primarily affecting the bones of the skull, Muenke syndrome is a condition characterized by the premature closure of the coronal sutures of the skull (coronal craniosynostosis) during development. This affects the shape of the head and face. Other variable features include abnormalities of the hands or feet, hearing loss and developmental delay. 

Causes

Muenke syndrome is caused by a specific mutation in the FGFR3 gene, called the P250R mutation. In most cases, this mutation arises randomly or by chance. We do not yet fully understand what causes this mutation. However, it does not appear that the mutation occurs as a result of something either parent does or fails to do. Most parents who have a baby with Muenke syndrome have normal genes.
 
Children with Muenke syndrome can pass the condition on to their children. The mutation is passed in an autosomal dominant fashion, meaning that only one copy of the gene needs to be passed on for the new baby to have this syndrome. In practical terms, autosomal dominant inheritance means that there is a 50-50 chance of a parent with Muenke syndrome having a baby that also has this condition. 

Impact on child

Children with Muenke syndrome characteristically have fusion of one or both of the coronal sutures. The coronal sutures are specialized expansion joints in the skull which allow rapid growth of the front part of the skull in the first years of life. In 70 per cent of cases, children with Muenke syndrome present with both coronal sutures fused. In the remainder of cases, only one of the sutures will generally be involved. Fusion of one or both of the coronal sutures leads to restricted skull growth and changes in the shape of the orbit (eye socket) giving a very characteristic shape to the forehead and eye. 
 
Up to half of children with this syndrome also have sensorineural hearing loss.

Treatment

The treatment of Muenke syndrome involves correction of the size and shape of the skull and orbit, and is similar to the treatment of non-syndromic unicoronal or bicoronal craniosynostosis. Although the timing of surgery can vary, surgery is most often done between six and 12 months of age. Surgery is usually performed through a scalp incision that lies concealed within the hair. Your craniofacial surgeon will work together with a neurosurgeon. For unicoronal craniosynostosis, surgeons will remove and reshape the bones of the forehead and upper eye sockets to give a more typical skull, face, and orbit shape. For bicoronal craniosynostosis, the surgical team may offer a forehead and eye socket reshaping surgery, or may prefer to do a different type of surgery, called distraction, to grow the back of the head, both for volume and appearance. 

Source (used with permission):

 

‎About

Pfeiffer syndrome is a rare genetic condition affecting primarily the skull and facial bones. Children with Pfeiffer syndrome have craniosynostosis involving multiple cranial sutures and underdevelopment of the facial bones. Studies have shown that Pfeiffer syndrome occurs in approximately one in 100,000 births. Usually Pfieffer syndrome is diagnosed at or shortly after birth, based on the characteristic appearance of the face and skull. The suspected diagnosis is confirmed by genetic testing.
 

Causes

Pfeiffer syndrome is caused by mutations in the fibroblast growth factor receptor genes (FGFR-1 or FGFR-2), located on Chromosomes 8 and 10, respectively. In most cases, these mutations arise randomly and sporadically. We do not yet fully understand what causes this mutation. However, it does not appear that the mutation occurs as a result of something either parent does or fails to do. Most parents who have a baby with Pfeiffer syndrome have normal genes.

Children with Pfeiffer syndrome can pass the condition on to their children. The mutation is passed in an autosomal dominant fashion, meaning that only one copy of the gene needs to be passed on for the new baby to have this syndrome. In practical terms, autosomal dominant inheritance means that there is a 50-50 chance of a parent with Pfeiffer syndrome having a baby that also has this condition. Anyone with Pfeiffer syndrome who wishes to have children can consider meeting with a geneticist in order to discuss the risks and make a thoughtful, informed decision.

Impact on child

The skull is made up of a number of plates of bone, joined together at specialized joints called sutures. These sutures act like expansion joints, allowing the skull to get larger as your child grows and as the developing brain pushes outward. In Pfeiffer syndrome, some of these sutures fuse prematurely, preventing the skull from growing normally. Since the brain cannot push all parts of the skull outward as it grows, the brain instead pushes outward and upward in parts of the skull where these expansion joints are functioning. This leads to an abnormally shaped skull.

In addition to fused coronal sutures, children with Pfeiffer syndrome also have underdeveloped bones in the bottom part of the skull and the midface, the part of the face lying between the eyes and the mouth. The bones of the midface do not grow forward as they should. The combined effect of the slowed growth of the forehead and midface is to make the eyes appear large and prominent. In fact, the eyes are normal sized in children with Pfeiffer syndrome. However, they are not as well protected and surrounded by bony structures as they should be, making them appear large. Additional characteristics of children with Pfeiffer syndrome include breathing problems or obstructive sleep apnea (related to the underdeveloped midface), conductive hearing loss, large thumbs and big toes, a higher incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease, developmental delays, and a higher incidence of abnormalities of the cervical (neck) spine.

Many children with Pfeiffer syndrome may also develop hydrocephalus, increased fluid in the brain due to poor drainage through the natural mechanisms. This can result in high brain pressure and a Chiari malformation, which occurs when a part of the brain, called the cerebellar tonsils, gets pushed downward through the normal hole in the bottom of the skull. When the cerebellar tonsils get wedged tightly in this hole, it can cause a certain type of sleep apnea (central sleep apnea), leading to decreased oxygen reaching the brain, particularly at night. This may hurt brain development. Children with Pfeiffer should be monitored for the development of hydrocephalus, increased brain pressure, and Chiari malformation.

Treatment

Treatment of children with Pfeiffer syndrome is complex and is aimed at correcting the skull and midface abnormalities and treating obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Skull surgery: Although the timing and sequence of surgeries may vary from child to child, most children with Pfeiffer syndrome will need two to four skull operations over a lifetime. The earliest skull surgery is frequently done in the first 18 months of life.
  • Midface surgery: The most common surgery for moving the bones of the midface forward in Pfeiffer syndrome is called a LeFort III advancement operation. This surgery is typically not done before your child is six to eight years of age. The primary reasons for performing a LeFort III advancement include severe obstructive sleep apnea which cannot be improved without surgery, difficulty with biting, chewing or speech, or significant patient concerns about appearance. During this operation, the bones of the midface are cut across the top of the nose, along the floor of the orbits (eye sockets) and across the cheekbones. Most of these cuts may be made through the same incision used for your child’s other skull surgeries. An additional incision may be placed on the inside of the mouth. No scars are placed on your child’s face. After making these cuts, the bones are either moved immediately into their final position and secured in place with plates and screws or moved gradually by a process called distraction osteogenesis. This can be done with a rigid external frame or with internal distraction devices. Which of these techniques is used depends on the age of your child at the time of surgery, their individual anatomy and the distance that the bones must be moved.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Children with Pfeiffer syndrome frequently have obstructive sleep apnea due to the underdevelopment of the midface, or from choanal stenosis or atresia (decreased size or absence of the breathing holes at the back of the nose). As a result, your child should be monitored for sleep apnea by your craniofacial team. In mild cases of sleep apnea, medications may be sufficient to improve breathing. If more significant obstruction occurs, tonsillectomy or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks may help alleviate symptoms. Sometimes, a tracheostomy may be required in infants with Pfeiffer in order to ensure adequate breathing. Midface surgery, such as a LeFort III operation, may be needed as your child gets older in order to fully treat obstructive sleep apnea or allow for eventual removal of a tracheostomy placed in infancy. Ultimately, the goal in all of these interventions is to ensure a good airway so that your child can get enough oxygen to help them develop to their fullest potential.
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About

Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is a rare craniofacial syndrome which primarily affects the skull and facial bones. It frequently leads to fusion of the coronal sutures, resulting in a characteristic skull shape. Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is estimated to occur in one in 25,000-50,000 births.
 
The diagnosis of Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is usually suspected based on the clinical findings of abnormal skull shape and characteristic facial features. The suspected diagnosis is confirmed by a blood test to look for the TWIST gene mutation. This genetic work-up is often overseen by a geneticist who is familiar with craniofacial syndromes.
 

Causes

Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is caused by a mutation in the TWIST gene, located on Chromosome 7. In most cases, this mutation arises randomly or by chance. We do not yet fully understand what causes this mutation. However, it does not appear that the mutation occurs as a result of something either parent does or fails to do. Most parents who have a baby with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome have normal genes.
 
Children with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome can pass the condition on to their children. The mutation is passed in an autosomal dominant fashion, meaning that only one copy of the gene needs to be passed on for the new baby to have this syndrome. In practical terms, autosomal dominant inheritance means that there is a 50-50 chance of a parent with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome having a baby that also has this condition. 

Impact on child

The skull is comprised of a number of plates of bone joined together at specialized joints called sutures. These sutures act like expansion joints, allowing the skull to get larger as your child grows and as the developing brain pushes outward. In Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, some the coronal sutures fuse prematurely, preventing the skull from growing normally. Since the brain cannot push all parts of the skull outward as it grows, the brain instead pushes outward and upward in parts of the skull where these expansion joints are functioning. This leads to an abnormally shaped skull which tends to be shortened front to back and perhaps taller than it should be. There is also an associated orbital deformity.
 
In addition to fused coronal sutures, children with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome also have a characteristic low-set hairline, a “beaked” nose and short stature (height). These children may also have syndactyly (webbed fingers), most commonly between the index and long fingers. Children with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome generally have normal intelligence and lead normal lives.

Treatment

The treatment of Saethre-Chotzen syndrome is focused on correction of the abnormal skull shape and mirrors the treatment of craniosynostosis. Although the timing of surgery can vary, surgical correction of bicoronal craniosynostosis is most often done between six and 12 months of age. Surgery is usually performed through a scalp incision that lies concealed within the hair. A craniofacial surgeon will work together with a neurosurgeon. Depending on the needs of the child, surgeons may remove and reshape the bones of the forehead and upper eye sockets to give a more typical skull, face, and orbit shape, or they may prefer to slowly grow the back of the head, called distraction, to improve both volume and appearance.
 
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Conditions associated with non-syndromic craniosynostosis


Conditions associated with syndromic craniosynostosis

About

The skull is made up of several “plates” of bone which, when we are born, are not tightly joined together. The seams where the plates join are called sutures. As we grow older, the sutures gradually fuse (stick) together, usually after all head growth has finished. When a child has craniosynostosis, the sutures fuse early, typically before birth. Craniosynostosis can affect one suture or several sutures. The premature fusing of the coronal sutures makes the forehead and eye sockets flatter as the rest of the skull compensates.

Children with bicoronal craniosynostosis have a characteristic appearance. Imaging scans, such as CT or MRI, may be suggested depending on your child’s examination but are not always required. 

Bicoronal craniosynostosis may be part of a syndrome (a collection of symptoms often seen together) or it may be non-syndromic or isolated, without any other differences. Some gene mutations causing bicoronal craniosynostosis have been identified. Genetic testing may be recommended to check whether there is a genetic reason for the bicoronal craniosynostosis.

Causes

The cause of bicoronal craniosynostosis is not yet known. There may be a genetic basis to the condition as, in a small number of families, it can be passed on from parent to child.

Several genes have been identified as being associated with bicoronal craniosynostosis. Gene mutations can be passed on from parent to child but in many cases develop sporadically (out of the blue). More research is needed to identify the cause of bicoronal craniosynostosis.

Impact on child

The main symptoms of bicoronal craniosynostosis are the flatter appearance of the forehead and eye sockets and a head shape that is shorter front to back, wider side to side and taller than average.

Children with bicoronal craniosynostosis typically do well, with the majority growing up to lead a normal life, working and raising a family, although it will vary depending on the presence of a syndrome or any other medical conditions.

Treatment

Although bicoronal craniosynostosis mainly affects the skull, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually include craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, neuro (brain) surgeons, ophthalmologists (eye specialists), geneticists, pediatricians, and speech and language therapists, with other specialists brought in as needed.

In many cases, initial skull reshaping surgery takes place within the first year of life. There are different types of surgery depending on the age of your child at diagnosis and their needs. The team will discuss the options with you.

There is a chance that children with bicoronal craniosynostosis may develop raised pressure in the head. This is often without symptoms initially but, if left untreated, may result in visual or neurological problems. For this reason, children with bicoronal craniosynostosis are monitored with regular eye examinations.

As the bones continue to grow during childhood and adolescence, further surgery may be needed to make minor corrections to the skull shape and forehead area.

Source (used with permission):

About

The skull is made up of several “plates” of bone which, when we are born, are not tightly joined together. The seams where the plates join are called sutures. As we grow older, the sutures gradually fuse (stick) together, usually after all head growth has finished. When a child has craniosynostosis, the sutures fuse early, typically before birth. Craniosynostosis can affect one suture or several sutures. 

The metopic suture runs from the front fontanelle (soft spot) through the forehead to the top of the nose. Metopic craniosynostosis is also known as trigonocephaly. Metopic craniosynostosis is a type of non-syndromic craniosynostosis that occurs when the metopic suture fuses before birth.

Children with metopic craniosynostosis have a characteristic appearance, so no specific diagnostic tests are needed. Imaging scans, such as CT or MRI, may be suggested depending on your child’s examination, but are not always required. A gene mutation causing metopic craniosynostosis has not yet been identified so genetic testing will not be helpful in most cases.

Causes

The cause of metopic craniosynostosis is not yet known. In a small number of families, metopic craniosynostosis may be passed from parent to child so there may be a genetic basis. However, in most cases, it happens sporadically (out of the blue). There may be a link between the mother taking an anti-epilepsy medicine called sodium valproate during pregnancy and her baby being born with metopic craniosynostosis. Another theory for the cause of metopic craniosynostosis is that the position of the baby while in the womb may affect skull development.
 
Metopic craniosynostosis affects more males than females but we are not yet sure why this is. The number of babies evaluated with metopic craniosynostosis is increasing but more research is needed to find out why this is. Metopic craniosynostosis can be associated with other conditions so the doctors will examine your child closely to check if this is the case.

Impact on child

The main symptom of metopic craniosynostosis is the abnormal shape of the forehead which is pointed and triangular. There may also be a bone ridge over the prematurely-fused suture running down the forehead from the front fontanelle to the top of the nose. This early fusing of the metopic suture often makes the eyes closer set than usual.
 
Children with metopic craniosynostosis can have developmental delay; that is, they reach their “milestones” later than other children. Over time, many children catch up and do not need much additional support in school. There is no evidence currently that this developmental delay is a direct result of the craniosynostosis; it appears to be an association only. Surgery to correct the shape of the forehead does not change the progress of development. Children can sometimes develop behavioral problems at school age but these are overcome in most cases with input and support from specialists.
 
Children with metopic craniosynostosis generally do well with the vast majority growing up to lead a normal life, working and raising a family, although it will vary depending on any other medical conditions present. 

Treatment

Although metopic craniosynostosis mainly affects the skull and orbits, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually include craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, neuro (brain) surgeons, ophthalmologists (eye specialists), geneticists, pediatricians, and speech and language therapists, with other specialists brought in as needed.

In most cases, initial skull reshaping surgery takes place within the first year of life. There are different types of surgery depending on the age of the child at diagnosis; the team will discuss the options with the family. As the bones continue to grow during childhood and adolescence, and sometimes the forehead returns to being narrowing with growth, further surgery may be needed to make minor corrections to the skull shape and forehead area.

Source (used with permission):

About

The skull is made up of several “plates” of bone which, when we are born, are not tightly joined together. The seams where the plates join are called “sutures.” As we grow older, the sutures gradually fuse (stick) together, usually after all head growth has finished. When a child has craniosynostosis, the sutures fuse early, typically before birth. Craniosynostosis can affect one suture or several sutures. 

The coronal sutures run from the front fontanelle (soft spot) down to the side of the forehead. Unicoronal craniosynostosis is also known as frontal/anterior plagiocephaly. Unicoronal craniosynostosis occurs when one of the two coronal sutures fuses before birth. The premature fusing of the coronal suture makes the forehead on one side flatter while the opposite side of the forehead moves forward to compensate. The eye on the affected side will have a taller eye socket, making the eye look more open.

Children with unicoronal craniosynostosis have a characteristic appearance, so no specific diagnostic tests are needed. Unusually unicoronal craniosynostosis is non-syndromic but a DNA/genetics test may be done to see if it is occurring as a part of Muenke syndrome. Imaging scans, such as CT or MRI, may be suggested depending on your child’s examination but are not always required. 

Causes

Unicoronal craniosynostosis may occur as part of Muenke syndrome but in most cases it is non-syndromic and the cause is unknown. Unicoronal craniosynostosis can be associated with other clinical conditions, such as craniofrontonasal dysplasia, so doctors will examine the child closely for other differences.
 

Impact on child

The main sign of unicoronal craniosynostosis is the flatter appearance of the forehead and the taller eye socket with wider eye on one side and the prominence (bossing) of the opposite side of the forehead. The top of the nose may also be tilted towards the side with the flattened forehead. Since the muscles that move the eye may be abnormally placed within the eye socket on the affected side, it may cause a squint (strabismus) to develop, so that the eyes do not always travel together. If untreated, this can affect visual development in childhood so a referral is usually made to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist).
 
Children with unicoronal craniosynostosis typically do well with the vast majority growing up to lead a normal life, working and raising a family.

Treatment

Although unicoronal craniosynostosis mainly affects the skull, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually include craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, neuro (brain) surgeons, ophthalmologists (eye specialists), geneticists, pediatricians, and speech and language therapists, with other specialists brought in as needed. 

Unicoronal craniosynostosis is not usually associated with raised pressure in the head so treatment is indicated primarily for appearance reasons. It consists of skull reshaping surgery which typically takes place within the first year of life. There are different types of surgery depending on the needs of the child and their age at diagnosis; the team will discuss the options with the child's family. As the bones continue to grow during childhood and adolescence, further surgery may be beneficial in later childhood to make adjustments to the skull shape, forehead area or nose.

There are several methods of treating a squint; what is needed will depend on the severity of the squint. The aim of all methods of treatment is to align the eyes so that they look normal and work properly. Non-surgical methods like glasses or patches may be tried first. If these methods do not correct the squint, an operation may be considered. 

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Conditions associated facial assymetry 

About

Craniofacial microsomia is a condition where one or both sides of the face is underdeveloped. Craniofacial microsomia, also known as hemifacial microsomia or Goldenhar syndrome, is variable and can affect some or all of the ear, eye, skull, cheek soft tissue, jaw, facial movement, and teeth on one or both sides of the head.

Children with craniofacial microsomia tend to have a characteristic appearance so no specific diagnostic tests are needed. However, in mild cases, imaging such as x-ray or CT scans may be needed to “measure” the amount of difference in each side of the face. 

Cause

In some cases, craniofacial microsomia is a genetic condition caused by a mutation (change) on a specific gene, although all of the genes are yet to be identified. In very rare cases, craniofacial microsomia can be passed from parent to child. But in most cases it develops sporadically (out of the blue) and no gene or chromosome change is found. Because of this, genetic testing is rarely suggested.

Impact on child

The symptoms of craniofacial microsomia are extremely variable and can affect various areas of the skull and face on the affected side. The jaws (both upper and lower jaws) can be underdeveloped which may cause problems with breathing, feeding or speech. Rarely, there may also be a cleft palate and differences with tooth development. The mouth may be wider than normal and missing some of the muscles surrounding it, leaving it weak and slanted downwards on the affected side.

If the skull bones are affected, the forehead and cheek on one side may appear flattened and the eye socket may be smaller than usual or displaced. Occasionally, the eye on the affected side may also be smaller or absent. The ear on the affected side may be an abnormal shape, smaller than usual or absent. The ear canal may also be absent and can be associated with hearing loss. There are also sometimes skin tags in front of the ear which do not interfere with hearing.

Sometimes other areas of the body can be affected. Children are given a full check-up to look for other differences.
 
The effect of having craniofacial microsomia is variable depending on the severity of the child’s symptoms and the impact on functions such as breathing, vision and hearing. Some children and families benefit from surgical, medical and psychological input at various stages throughout childhood and adolescence. Children are of normal intelligence so usually do well at school, college and university.

Treatment

As craniofacial microsomia can affect various areas of the skull and face, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually comprise craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, maxillofacial (jaw and dental) surgeons, plastic surgeons, ear, nose and throat surgeons, audiologists, ophthalmologists, speech and language therapists, pediatricians, psychologists or social workers, dentists and orthodontists, with other specialists brought in as needed.

Early treatment may be needed if the underdeveloped jaw causes problems with breathing or feeding. In severe cases, surgery when the child is a baby may be needed to help with breathing or feeding.

If the position or size of the eye socket is different, this may be re-shaped so that the eye can sit in the correct position and the eyelids close to protect it. If the eye is very small or absent, a prosthesis (false eye) can be made to match the appearance of the child’s other eye.

Several options for ear reconstruction may be offered. One option is to create a “framework” for the new ear from rib cartilage and insert it under the skin on the side of the head. Another option is to use a synthetic ear framework (Medpor implant) to recreate the shape of the ear and cover it with skin on the side of the head. Alternatively, children may prefer to have a prosthetic (plastic) ear made for them, which is fixed to a bar inserted into the skull bone. All these options restore the appearance of the ear but cannot correct any hearing problems caused by a difference in the hearing structures or an absent ear canal. Hearing is tested using audiograms and can be treated with a variety of techniques and hearing aids.

In childhood, surgery to correct the underdeveloped lower jaw may be suggested. This can be done using bone from a rib or by distraction, which involves “stretching” the bone until it is a more proportionate size. The position of the teeth will need correcting later in childhood using orthodontics (braces) which may be removable or fixed for a period of months or years.

As the bone continues to grow during childhood and adolescence, further surgery may be needed when the child is done growing to make additional corrections to the shape of the jaw and face. Fat can also be taken from one part of the body and placed where the face is small to improve symmetry.

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Conditions associated mandibular differences

About

Nager syndrome is a congenital (present at birth) condition affecting the bones and tissues of the face. It also affects the arms and hands, and occasionally the legs and feet. 

Early in pregnancy, the cheekbones, eye sockets and jaws do not develop properly. This causes a characteristic appearance with downward sloping eyes and a small lower jaw. Nager syndrome is similar to Treacher-Collins syndrome, with additional differences of the arms and hands. It is often associated with cleft palate.

As children with Nager syndrome have a characteristic appearance, no specific diagnostic tests are needed. Imaging scans, such as x-ray, CT or MRI, may be suggested depending on the features and needs of the child. Imaging may also be needed to examine the internal structures of the ear alongside hearing tests to diagnose hearing loss.
 

Causes

Nager syndrome may be a genetic condition caused by a mutation (change) on a specific gene. However, the specific gene(s) causing Nager syndrome have not yet been identified. The gene(s) suspected in Nager syndrome alter the development of the first and second pharyngeal arches early in pregnancy. The pharyngeal arches are structures located on either side of the head and neck that develop into the features of the face and neck. In particular, the first and second pharyngeal arches form into the nerves and muscles needed for showing facial expressions and chewing, the outer ear and the structures within the middle ear.

In Nager syndrome, there are typically associated differences with arm and hand development.

Impact on child

Children with Nager syndrome have a characteristic appearance due to the differences in the development of their cheekbones, jaws and eye sockets. If the lower jaw is very small or underdeveloped, breathing difficulties may become apparent at or shortly after birth. A small jaw can also cause feeding difficulties.
 
The ears are often affected in children with Nager syndrome, either being absent (anotia) or small (microtia). If the internal structures of the ear are also underdeveloped this can lead to hearing impairment.
 
The arms and hands are also affected in Nager syndrome. Often, the elbow joint is stiff so bending the arm is difficult. The radius bone in the forearm may be missing or underdeveloped causing the hand to be bent inwards towards the body (radially deviated). This can affect all the structures on the radial side of the upper limb, including the bones and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, joints, nerves and blood vessels). The most common hand difference in children with Nager syndrome is an underdeveloped or absent thumb on both hands. The other fingers may be abnormally curved (clinodactyly), stiff or webbed (syndactyly). In some children, their legs and feet are similarly affected.
 
Rarely, other structures in the body are also affected.
 
The outlook for children born with Nager syndrome is variable depending on the severity of their symptoms and the impact it has on functions such as breathing and hearing. They will require long term monitoring, particularly during periods of growth in childhood and adolescence. Surgeries are more frequent in early childhood but are typically completed by the time the child is in their mid-twenties. Some children and families benefit from psychological input at various stages throughout childhood and adolescence.

Treatment

As Nager syndrome can affect various areas of the head and face, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually include craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, maxillofacial (dental and jaw) surgeons, ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons, hand surgeons, plastic surgeons, audiologists (hearing specialists), dentists and orthodontists, geneticists, pediatricians, and speech and language therapists, with other specialists brought in as needed.
 
Supporting a child’s breathing is the first priority. For some children, their anatomy is so different that they need a tracheostomy (an artificial opening into the windpipe) to allow them to breathe. Other children may only need breathing support at night. Feeding problems may be helped with a special bottle, a feeding tube or a gastrostomy tube which goes directly into the stomach, bypassing the mouth and throat.
 
If the thumb is present but weak, surgery can be undertaken to stabilize any unstable joints and strengthen the thumb by taking a tendon or a muscle from elsewhere in the hand. If the thumb is absent or unstable, the index finger on that hand may be moved to the thumb position (pollicization). Finger webbing (syndactyly), if causing a problem with function, may be corrected in a series of operations during childhood.
 
Later in childhood, the underdeveloped jaw may require treatment, often with bone grafts and jaw distraction. This is a long-term treatment but has good results for the majority of children. 
 
Ear reconstruction can also be carried out in later childhood, either creating a bigger ear from the child’s rib cartilage or from a plastic (Medpor) implant.
 
Ear reconstruction improves the appearance of the ear but it will not improve function. Children with hearing impairment will benefit from support in terms of hearing aids or cochlear implant as well as speech and language therapy.
 
As the bones continue to grow during childhood and adolescence, further surgery may be needed to improve facial appearance.

Source (used with permission):

‎About

Treacher-Collins syndrome (also known as mandibulofacial dysostosis) is a congenital (present at birth) condition affecting the bones and tissues of the face. 

Early in pregnancy, the cheekbones, jaws and eye sockets do not develop properly. This causes a characteristic appearance, with downward slanted eyes and a small lower jaw.

As children with Treacher-Collins syndrome have a characteristic appearance, no specific diagnostic tests are needed. Imaging scans, such as x-ray or MRI, may be suggested depending on the anatomy and needs of the child. Imaging may also be needed to examine the internal structures of the ear alongside hearing tests to diagnose hearing loss.

Causes

Treacher-Collins syndrome is a genetic condition caused by a mutation (change) on a specific gene. Research has identified three genes affected: TCOF1, which is the most common, as well as POLR1C and POLR1D. These genes are responsible for the formation of proteins that play an important role in how bone and tissue cells develop early in pregnancy.

The gene mutation can be passed on from parent to child but in many cases develops sporadically (out of the blue).

The TCOF1 or POLR1D gene mutation is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. This means that a child only has to inherit the gene difference from one parent to develop the condition. The POLR1C gene is passed on in an autosomal recessive manner. This means that a child has to inherit the gene difference from both parents to develop the condition.

Impact on child

The symptoms of Treacher-Collins syndrome are variable ranging from mild to severe.

Children with Treacher-Collins syndrome have a characteristic appearance due to the differences in the development of their cheekbones, jaws and eye sockets. If the lower jaw is very small or underdeveloped, breathing difficulties may become apparent at or shortly after birth. A small jaw can also cause feeding difficulties.

Some children also have a cleft palate (gap in the roof of the mouth) or coloboma, a notch in the lower part of the eye. The ears are often different in children with Treacher-Collins syndrome, either being absent (anotia) or small (microtia). If the internal structures of the ear are also underdeveloped, this can lead to hearing impairment.

The outlook for children born with Treacher-Collins syndrome is variable depending on the severity of their symptoms and the impact it has on functions such as breathing, vision and hearing. They will require long-term monitoring, particularly during periods of growth in childhood and adolescence. Surgeries are more frequent in early childhood but are typically completed by the time the child is in their mid-twenties. Some children and families benefit from psychological input at various stages throughout childhood and adolescence.

Treatment

As Treacher-Collins syndrome can affect various areas of the head and face, treatment is best delivered at a specialist centre where a multidisciplinary team approach can be taken. The multidisciplinary team will usually comprise craniofacial (skull and face) surgeons, neuro (brain) surgeons, ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons, audiologists (hearing specialists), dentists and orthodontists, geneticists, pediatricians, and speech and language therapists, with other specialists brought in as needed.

Supporting a child’s breathing is the first priority. For some children, their anatomy is so different that they need a tracheostomy (an artificial opening into the windpipe) to allow them to breathe. Other children may only need breathing support at night. Feeding problems may be helped with a special bottle, a feeding tube or a gastrostomy tube which goes directly into the stomach, bypassing the mouth and throat. Cleft palate repair (if required) will also be carried out, typically at about 12-18 months of age.

Later in childhood, the underdeveloped jaw may benefit from treatment to improve bite, chewing, speech and appearance. This is typically done with bone grafts and jaw distraction. This is a long-term treatment but has good results for the majority of children. Sometimes the cheek bones are also reconstructed using bone grafts or implants. 

Ear reconstruction can also be carried out in later childhood, either creating a bigger ear from the child’s rib cartilage or from a plastic (Medpor) implant. Ear reconstruction improves the appearance of the ear but it will not improve function. Children with hearing impairment will need support in terms of hearing aids or cochlear implant as well as speech and language therapy.

As the bones continue to grow during childhood and adolescence, further surgery may be needed to make minor corrections to face shape. Final corrections are usually complete between the ages of 16 and 20 years.

Source (used with permission):

Dental conditions and resources

About

Ectodermal Dysplasia syndromes (EDS) is a group of related conditions that cause the abnormal development of some combination of teeth, hair, nails, sweat glands and parts of the eye and ear during pregnancy. More than 150 conditions have been identified and each syndrome usually involves a different combination of symptoms. EDS is diagnosed when a patient has two or more Ectodermal Dysplasia symptoms.


Causes

EDS is a genetic disorder which means it's caused by changes (mutations) in a gene(s). Genes, which are passed from parents to children, determine a person's traits, including appearance and growth. Mutated genes can be inherited from a parent, caused by environmental factors or occur randomly.


EDS is caused by mutations to genes that control the ectoderm, the cells that eventually develop into skin, hair, nails, teeth, nerve cells, sweat glands, parts of the eye and ear, and parts of some other organs during pregnancy.


Impact

Because the ectoderm plays a role in development of so many body parts, patients with EDS may have a broad variety of symptoms which range in severity. Symptoms often include:


  • Missing or sparse hair growth (hypotrichosis)
  • Missing or malformed of teeth (hypodontia)
  • Inability to sweat (hypohidrosis), which causes overheating (hyperthermia)
  • Weakened or loss of hearing or vision
  • Missing or malformed fingers or toes
  • Cleft lip and/or palate
  • Irregular skin colour
  • Challenges breathing

Treatment

Many of the symptoms of EDS can be treated. Our team works with our patients and their families to develop a treatment plan that addresses each patient's specific needs.


It is common for patients with EDS and EEC (Ectodermal-Ectodactyl Clefting syndrome) to undergo significant dental treatment, including orthodontic, oral surgery and prosthetic services.


To learn more, please read about the Orthodontic Program for Children with Cleft Lip and Palate & Syndromic Craniofacial Anomalies and the  Dental Program for Ectodermal-Ectodactyl Clefting Syndrome


Resources



Ear conditions and resources

‎About

Microtia is a small or abnormally formed ear. It comes from the words “micro” (small) and “otia” (ear). Microtia may affect one side only (unilateral) or affect both ears (bilateral). Eighty per cent of the time it is unilateral. Some people may have microtia as part of a syndrome known as craniofacial (or hemifacial) microsomia. In this condition, there may also be a small jaw or cheek, or weakness of some of the facial muscles on the affected side. Treacher-Collins syndrome, in which the eyes and facial bones are affected, is also another condition that may be associated with microtia.
 
Microtia occurs in about one in 6,000 births. The chance of an affected parent passing this difference to their children is usually small (less than six per cent), but there are some families who carry a gene for microtia.
 

Cause

Microtia occurs when there is a difference with the development of the ear in the embryo. The deformity is thought to be due to an abnormality of the blood vessel supplying the area around the ear in the embryo. This is still uncertain and nobody knows what causes this to happen. Occasionally, it is due to an inherited gene difference but most of the time it is a one-off condition that the child with microtia will not pass on to their own children.
 
There is no evidence that anything a parent does or does not do during pregnancy causes microtia.
 

Impact on child

In some cases of microtia, the hearing may be normal or partly reduced and not require any treatment. Patients with microtia may not have an external ear canal but this does not necessarily mean that they cannot hear on that side as the inner ear may be normal. In others, there may be differences in the formation of the middle ear which can affect hearing.
 
Children with unilateral microtia, with absence of the ear canal on that side, will often struggle to identify which direction a sound is coming from.
 
Your child will need to have audiograms to test their hearing and also may benefit from a CT scan to look at the small bones in the middle ear to determine whether or not hearing can be improved in the ear.
 

Treatment

To create a new ear, the choices are to use tissue from the patient’s own body (autogenous reconstruction) or synthetic materials (alloplastic reconstruction).  
 
Autogenous reconstruction involves making a new ear from the patient’s rib cartilage which is then placed under the skin on the side of the scalp where the ear should have been. In some cases, a second operation is done to lift the ear out from the side of the head and create the groove behind the ear with a skin graft.
 
An alloplastic reconstruction can involve either a plastic clip-on ear (osseointegrated prosthesis) which attaches to surgically placed studs in the bone on the side of the head, or the use of a material called Medpor (porous polyethylene) which is placed under the skin in a similar manner to the rib cartilage in an autogenous reconstruction. 
 
Sometimes your child may benefit from surgery to adjust the bigger ear (such as by pinning it back) to more closely match the reconstructed ear.
 
Ear reconstruction can be performed any time from around the age of six years but is often deferred until the child requests surgery (eight to 10 years of age). At this time, the rib cartilage is also large enough and strong enough to be carved properly into an ear. Some children are not concerned about their little ear and never request a reconstruction so it is important that your child is involved in any decision for surgery.
 
Source (used with permission):
 
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SOURCE: Cleft Palate & Craniofacial Disorders ( )
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