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Houston Doctor Awarded Cleft Lip and Palate Fellowship

By on July 18, 2013 in Health News Texas with 0 Comments
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Cleft lip and palate is a congenital anomaly that occurs when a baby’s upper lip and/or palate do not fuse during pregnancy. Photo: Health News Texas archives

by Texas Children’s Hospital staff

A Houston pediatric plastic surgery physician-scientist has been awarded a clinical grant for cleft lip and palate repair research.

Dr. Laura Monson, apediatric plastic surgeon at the Department of Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital, is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Texas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Fellowship.

As the fellowship recipient, Monson will utilize the support to study the short- and long-term outcomes of patients with cleft lip and palate, as well as further her expertise in clinical research through formal post-graduate training.

Dr. Monson head shot

Dr. Laura Monson, apediatric plastic surgeon at the Department of Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital, is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Texas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Fellowship. Photo: TCH

Monson completed her residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Michigan and her fellowship training at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she received further dedicated training in pediatric plastics and craniofacial surgery.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital specializes in the comprehensive care of patients born with cleft lip and palate.

Cleft lip and palate is a congenital anomaly that occurs when a baby’s upper lip and/or palate do not fuse during pregnancy. A baby can have an isolated cleft lip, an isolated cleft palate, or a combination of the 2.

The main issues developed by children with cleft lip and palate involves feeding difficulties, speech development, oral hygiene, dental problems and social interaction.

Funded by The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s volunteer-led service organization, the fellowship was created to support the Department of Surgery and its tri-part mission of patient care, education and research.

“Understanding the clinical outcomes of cleft lip and palate repairs requires a longitudinal study that follows patients closely long-term,” said Dr. Laura Monson, also an assistant professor of surgery in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “Through our research we plan to follow our patient’s clinical outcomes and quality of life over 18 years. We will track their speech progress, how the repair develops aesthetically, as well as how they are advancing psychosocially.”

One child in 700 in the United States is born with a cleft lip or palate. It is the fourth most common birth defect and the most common facial defect. Cleft lip and palate is a congenital anomaly that occurs when a baby’s upper lip and/or palate do not fuse during pregnancy.

Larry Hollier MD_1

“Dr. Monson’s surgical outcomes research is perfectly timed as Texas Children’s Hospital’s Cleft Lip and Palate program is expanding,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, chief of plastic surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital and chief of the division of plastic surgery at BCM. Photo: TCH

A baby can have an isolated cleft lip, an isolated cleft palate or a combination of the two. The main issues facing children with cleft lip and palate involve feeding difficulties, proper speech development, proper oral hygiene, dental problems and positive social interactions. Monson’s research will be aimed at understanding the development of these childhood issues, as the patients become adults.
Texas Children’s Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic specialize in the comprehensive care of patients born with cleft lip and palate.

The multidisciplinary team at Texas Children’s – which includes a pediatrician, plastic surgeon, pediatric dentist, craniofacial orthodontist, otolaryngology specialist, speech pathologist, audiologist, craniofacial nurse, genetic counselor, outcomes nurse, social worker, nutritionist and translator – has more than 40 years of experience treating these particular issues.

“Dr. Monson’s surgical outcomes research is perfectly timed as Texas Children’s Hospital’s Cleft Lip and Palate program is expanding,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, chief of plastic surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital and chief of the division of plastic surgery at BCM. “The hospital treats hundreds of children with cleft lip and palate with 200 to 300 new cases each year. Tracking these patients through the course of their lives will provide invaluable information to help improve the treatment for these children.”

Monson’s efforts will be supported through the Texas Children’s Surgical Outcomes Center.  The center is committed to track and improve clinical outcomes, transparency in sharing those outcomes and advocating for care to be provided where the best outcomes can be achieved.


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