Oral breathing and speech disorders in children

J Pediatr (Rio J). 2013 Jul-Aug;89(4):361-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jped.2012.12.007. Epub 2013 Jul 1.


Objective: To assess speech alterations in mouth-breathing children, and to correlate them with the respiratory type, etiology, gender, and age.

Method: A total of 439 mouth-breathers were evaluated, aged between 4 and 12 years. The presence of speech alterations in children older than 5 years was considered delayed speech development. The observed alterations were tongue interposition (TI), frontal lisp (FL), articulatory disorders (AD), sound omissions (SO), and lateral lisp (LL). The etiology of mouth breathing, gender, age, respiratory type, and speech disorders were correlated.

Results: Speech alterations were diagnosed in 31.2% of patients, unrelated to the respiratory type: oral or mixed. Increased frequency of articulatory disorders and more than one speech disorder were observed in males. TI was observed in 53.3% patients, followed by AD in 26.3%, and by FL in 21.9%. The co-occurrence of two or more speech alterations was observed in 24.8% of the children.

Conclusion: Mouth breathing can affect speech development, socialization, and school performance. Early detection of mouth breathing is essential to prevent and minimize its negative effects on the overall development of individuals.

Keywords: Adenoid; Adenoide; Amígdala; Joint disorders; Mouth breathing; Palatine tonsils; Respiração bucal; Rhinitis; Rinite; Transtornos da articulação.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoids / pathology
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / complications
  • Male
  • Mouth Breathing / complications*
  • Nasal Obstruction / etiology
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Rhinitis / complications
  • Sex Factors
  • Speech Disorders / etiology*
  • Speech Disorders / pathology