Hoarseness in children with cleft palate

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Determine the rate of hoarseness in children with cleft palate (CP). Understand the relationship between velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) and hoarseness in children with CP.


Case series with chart review.


Retrospective chart review of 185 patients with CP treated by a Children's Hospital Cleft Team and born between 1991 and 2001.


Of total patients, 54.1 percent were male and 45.9 percent female. All types of CP were represented. The overall rate of hoarseness was 20.0 percent at age 3-4 and 18.4 percent at age 6-7. The presence of VPI did not correlate with the presence of hoarseness or dysphonia. VPI decreased when comparing age 3-4 (58.4%) with age 6-7 (30.2%, P < 0.001), but the hoarseness rates did not change, 20.8 percent at age 3-4 and 19.5 percent at age 6-7 (P = 0.56).


Patients with CP are thought to have increased risk of voice disturbances due to compensatory articulation mechanisms used when a patient has VPI. However, this study of 185 patients with CP showed no relationship between VPI and hoarseness. The overall rate of hoarseness of this population with CP was within the reported range for the normal population of children. These findings suggest that the theory that VPI causes hoarseness due to compensatory speech mechanisms may be incorrect.

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