Speech and Phonology in Swedish-Speaking 3-Year-Olds with Unilateral Complete Cleft Lip and Palate Following Different Methods for Primary Palatal Surgery
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Objective: To describe and compare speech and phonology at age 3 years in children born with unilateral complete cleft lip and palate treated with three different methods for primary palatal surgery. Design: Prospective study. Setting: Primary care university hospitals. Participants: Twenty-eight Swedish-speaking children born with nonsyndromic unilateral complete cleft lip and palate. Interventions: Three methods for primary palatal surgery: two-stage closure with soft palate closure between 3.4 and 6.4 months and hard palate closure at mean age 12.3 months (n = 9) or 36.2 months (n = 9) or one-stage closure at mean age 13.6 months (n = 10). Main Outcome Measures: Based on independent judgments performed by two speech-language pathologists from standardized video recordings: percent correct consonants adjusted for age, percent active cleft speech characteristics, total number of phonological processes, number of different phonological processes, hypernasality, and audible nasal air leakage. The hard palate was unrepaired in nine of the children treated with two-stage closure. Results: The group treated with one-stage closure showed significantly better results than the group with an unoperated hard palate regarding percent active cleft speech characteristics and total number of phonological processes. Conclusions: Early primary palatal surgery in one or two stages did not result in any significant differences in speech production at age 3 years. However, children with an unoperated hard palate had significantly poorer speech and phonology than peers who had been treated with one-stage palatal closure at about 13 months of age.