Oromotor dysfunction and communication impairments in children with cerebral palsy: a register study

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010 Dec;52(12):1113-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03765.x. Epub 2010 Aug 31.


Aim: to report the prevalence, clinical associations, and trends over time of oromotor dysfunction and communication impairments in children with cerebral palsy (CP).

Method: multiple sources of ascertainment were used and children followed up with a standardized assessment including motor speech problems, swallowing/chewing difficulties, excessive drooling, and communication impairments at age 5 years.

Results: a total of 1357 children born between 1980 and 2001 were studied (781 males, 576 females; median age 5y 11mo, interquartile range 3-9y; unilateral spastic CP, n=447; bilateral spastic CP, n=496; other, n=112; Gross Motor Function Classification System [GMFCS] level: I, 181; II, 563; III, 123; IV, 82; IV, 276). Of those with 'early-onset' CP (n=1268), 36% had motor speech problems, 21% had swallowing/chewing difficulties, 22% had excessive drooling, and 42% had communication impairments (excluding articulation defects). All impairments were significantly related to poorer gross motor function and intellectual impairment. In addition, motor speech problems were related to clinical subtype; swallowing/chewing problems and communication impairments to early mortality; and communication impairments to the presence of seizures. Of those with CP in GMFCS levels IV to V, a significant proportion showed a decline in the rate of motor speech impairment (p=0.008) and excessive drooling (p=0.009) over time.

Interpretation: these impairments are common in children with CP and are associated with poorer gross motor function and intellectual impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Cerebral Palsy / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Communication Disorders / etiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Mouth Diseases / etiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies