Speech production in 3-year-old internationally adopted children with unilateral cleft lip and palate.Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2017 09; 52(5):626-636.IJ
In the last decade, a large number of children with cleft lip and palate have been adopted to Sweden. A majority of the children were born in China and they usually arrive in Sweden with an unoperated palate. There is currently a lack of knowledge regarding speech and articulation development in this group of children, who also have to deal with a late first language switch.
To study consonant proficiency in 3-year-old internationally adopted children with unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP) compared with peers with UCLP born in Sweden. Also to study the type and frequency of consonant errors and to perceptually compare velopharyngeal competence between the groups.
METHODS & PROCEDURES
Thirty-two children born between 2006 and 2010 with UCLP participated in the study-14 adopted from China and 18 children born in Sweden. Both groups were treated by the same cleft palate team. Audio recordings at 3 years of age were perceptually analysed by blinded listeners. Consonant proficiency was measured via per cent consonants correct adjusted for age (PCC-A), per cent correct manners (PCM) and per cent correct places (PCP). The prevalence of audible nasal air leakage and velopharyngeal competence were judged and compared between groups. The type and frequencies of consonant errors related to place and manner of articulation were also analysed.
OUTCOMES & RESULTS
The internationally adopted children had significantly fewer correct consonants compared with the Swedish-born children. This was true for PCC-A, PCP and PCM. This group also had significantly higher prevalence of glottal stops/fricatives and deleted target consonants more often. Also the internationally adopted children had a higher prevalence of incompetent velopharyngeal function. The only outcome variable with similar results in the groups was audible nasal air leakage.
CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS
The present study indicated that there were significant differences regarding consonant proficiency and velopharyngeal competence between internationally adopted children with a UCLP and their Swedish-born peers with UCLP at the age of 3 years. Internationally adopted children with UCLP should be considered an at risk group for a higher prevalence of speech difficulties than non-adoptees. Thus, it is particularly important to follow this group of children over time. Longitudinal studies of speech and language development in internationally adopted children with UCLP are needed.