Diagnosing cleft lip and palate 

Clefts affecting the lip are often, but not always, picked up during an ultrasound scan carried out in mid-pregnancy. The cleft nurse specialist will then normally be in contact with you and arrange to meet you.

Clefts of the palate are not usually diagnosed during the ultrasound scan and are nearly always diagnosed soon after birth.

However, some clefts such as a submucous cleft palate, where the cleft is hidden by the lining of the roof of the mouth may not be detected for several months or even years, when speech problems may develop (see symptoms of cleft lip and palate).

Specialist cleft lip and palate team

As soon as a cleft has been diagnosed, you and your child will be referred to a specialist cleft team. An arrangement can also be made for a specialist cleft nurse to visit you in hospital or at home to help with feeding and answer any questions you may have.

The specialist nurse will liaise with other healthcare professionals involved with your child’s care and arrange for you to attend a cleft lip and palate clinic appointment at the hospital.

Learn more about your child's care team in treatment of cleft lip and palate.

Coping with a diagnosis

Being told that you or your child has a condition such as cleft lip – either at birth or as a result of screening – can be a confusing and frightening experience.

You'll be given the chance to talk to specialists and the specialist cleft lip and palate team about what having a baby with a cleft lip might mean to you and your family, including the available treatments, and how it can affect your life.

Below is a list of charities and other organisations you may find useful:


Page last reviewed: 21/07/2014

Next review due: 21/07/2016