OBJECTIVE: To evaluate speech in 5-year-olds with cleft palate with or without cleft lip (CP±L) treated with primary palatal surgery in 1 stage with muscle reconstruction according to Sommerlad at about 12 months of age.
DESIGN: Retrospective study.
SETTING: Primary care university hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Eight 5-year-olds with cleft soft palate (SP), 22 with cleft soft/hard palate (SHP), 33 with unilateral cleft lip and palate, and 17 with bilateral CLP (BCLP).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percent oral consonants correct (POCC), percent consonants correct adjusted for age (PCC-A), percent oral errors, percent nonoral errors, and variables related to velopharyngeal function were analyzed from assessments of audio recordings by 3 independent speech-language pathologists.
RESULTS: The median POCC was 75.4% (range: 22.7%-98.9%), median PCC-A 96.9% (range: 36.9%-100%), median percent oral errors 3.4% (range: 0%-40.7%), and median percent nonoral errors 0% (range: 0%-20%), with significantly poorer results in children with more extensive clefts. The SP group had significantly less occurrence of audible nasal air leakage than the SHP and the BCLP groups. Before age 5 years, 1.3% of the children underwent fistula surgery and 6.3% secondary speech improving surgery. At age 5 years, 15% of the total group was perceived as having incompetent velopharyngeal function.
CONCLUSIONS: Speech was poorer in many children with more extensive clefts. Children with CP±L had poorer speech compared to normative data of peers without CP±L, but the results indicated relatively good speech compared to speech of children with CP±L in previous studies.