To describe the development of maxillary arch dimensions in children with bilateral cleft lip and palate (BCLP) during the first 4 years of life and to compare it with that in noncleft children.
This was a retrospective, mixed-longitudinal study.
The study was conducted at the Cleft Palate Center of the University Hospital of Nijmegen.
The sample consisted of 26 boys with BCLP who were born between 1976 and 1990 and treated at the University Hospital of Nijmegen. Data for a control group of 34 noncleft boys were collected at the University Hospital of Amsterdam.
Palatal arch dimensions were digitized on dental casts. A comparison between BCLP and noncleft dimensions was made at fixed time intervals.
At birth, anterior and posterior arch widths as well as arch depths were significantly larger in children with BCLP. After 7 months (lip closure), anterior arch width and arch depth diminished considerably in the cleft group. After 12 months (palatoplasty), a slight decrease in posterior arch width was observed, and arch depths showed slight catch-up growth. At 4 years of age, anterior arch width was significantly narrower and anterior arch depth was shorter in children with BCLP than in control subjects. Posterior arch width was significantly wider.
During the first 4 years of life, maxillary arch dimensions in children with BCLP show a unique development that is significantly different from that in noncleft children.