BACKGROUND: The unexpected birth of a baby with a cleft lip and palate (CL/P) is a shocking and traumatic experience, generating anxiety for parents as well as the attendant health care team. Parents frequently leave the hospital with many unanswered questions because health care professionals do not educate them adequately. OBJECTIVE: To determine what information these parents felt was "critical" for them during the immediate newborn period and to determine how the "informer" was perceived during these encounters. DESIGN: Retrospective, self-administered questionnaire. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Biologic parents of children with isolated CL/P aged 6 years and younger were surveyed. The questionnaire asked parents whether they remembered discussing diagnosis, prognosis, management, home care, and psychosocial issues. Parents were also asked to rank how "critical" it would have been for the "informer" to have discussed certain issues with them during this first day. RESULTS: Parents gave the highest priority to feeding and learning to identify illness in their baby; 95% wanted to be shown all normal aspects of their baby's exam, and 87% wanted to be told that the CL/P was not their fault. Usage of proper terminology to describe abnormal findings and receiving assurance that their child was not in pain were also important. Unfortunately, many parents reported that the informers did not address these issues. CONCLUSIONS: Parents of newborns with CL/P want basic information in the immediate newborn period, especially regarding feeding and recognizing illness. These data suggest that informers are not adequately discussing these issues with parents.
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