Palate examination: Identification of cleft palate in the newborn - best practice guide (2014)

Our guide provides recommendations to health professionals for optimal examination of the palate during the routine newborn examination to ensure early detection of a cleft palate. We have also produced a parent/carer guide, as well as a free e-learning for health professionals.

Cleft palate guideline - report cover

Our best practice guide aims to aid neonatologists, paediatricians, nurses, midwives, GPs, health care assistants and any other health care professional to identify cleft palate in neonates. And it aims to improve and standardise routine postnatal examination of the palate.

The target population includes babies from birth to 28 days of age examined routinely as part of the newborn examination, usually within 72 hours of birth.

Best practice guide for health professionals (PDF, 1,877KB, 13 pages)

Parent/carer guide (PDF, 504KB, 4 pages) - explains what health professionals look for when your baby has a palate examination

Free e-learning

If you're a health professional in neonatal care, sign up for our online learning.

You can register or sign in to your free account on Compass, our learning platform.

Background and methodology

NICE accreditation logo

It holds the NICE accreditation symbol.

RCPCH Standards for development of clinical guidelines in paediatrics and child health (2009) (PDF, 695KB, 46 pages) - produced in accordance with these standards 

Methodology document with full details of the search strategy, evidence tables and Delphi methods (PDF, 225KB, 35 pages).

Working group

The working group comprised RCPCH, British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM), Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA), The Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland, NIPE, Nursing SIG Great Britain and Ireland, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and a parent representative.

Project stakeholders

  • Jane Abbott (Bliss)
  • David Munday (Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association)
  • Scott Deacon (Craniofacial Anomalies Network (CRANE))
  • Fiona Smith (Royal College of Nursing (RCN))
  • Iolo Doull (British paediatric respiratory society)
  • Victoria Clark (Mechelle Collard as deputy) (The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry)
  • Neil Bateman (British Association for Paediatric Otolaryngology)
  • Anne Crawford (National Network for Cleft Care in Scotland)

Delphi panellists

  • Helen Robson (clinical nurse specialist for cleft lip and palate services)
  • Karine Latter (cleft lip and palate specialist nurse)
  • Anne Crawford (cleft lip and palate nurse specialist)
  • Anne Lomax (teaches examination of newborn (RCM))
  • Stephanie Michaelides (principal lecturer in Middlesex University (RCM))
  • Belinda Ackerman (consultant midwife)
  • Helen Baston (consultant midwife)
  • Cathy Rogers (consultant midwife)
  • Jason Dwyer (cleft surgeon)
  • Felicity Mehendale (cleft surgeon)
  • Linda Treharne (cleft surgeon)
  • Alistair Smyth (cleft surgeon)
  • Norma Timoney (cleft surgeon)
  • Bob Welch (neonatologist)
  • Peter Fowlie (neonatologist)
  • Michelle Jones (clinical nurse specialist)


The best practice guide will be reviewed every three years after publication to assess whether all or part of the guide requires updating.

Each update will include a literature review and stakeholder consultation.


For more information on cleft palate, visit the Cleft Lip and Palate Association.

If you have any questions in relation to the development of these guides, please contact